Multicultural Fair promotes diversity through awareness

Kelsie Singleton (sitting) and Alexis Pickering (standing) pass out free cupcakes and drinks to students interested in finding out more information about Saddleback’s Black Student Union (MaryAnne Shults)

MaryAnne Shults

Students at last week’s Saddleback College Multicultural Fair buzzed around the Black Student Union’s table like honey-gathering bees for handmade cupcakes and a free drink. Kelsie Singleton, 18, business, and fellow club member Alexis Pickering, 19, undecided, couldn’t keep up with the demand for their tasty treats.

Singleton sat under the white canopy frosting the miniature red velvet cakes. With one flick of her wrist, she applied white frosting with the back of a spoon, while students grabbed and gobbled them down. At the other end of the table, Pickering was answering questions and encouraging interested students to add their contact information to the club’s sign-up sheet.

About 12 campus clubs participated in this year’s multicultural fair, organized by the Diversity Council, last week. To better enlighten students, the council selected often misconceived cultures to represent, according to council Ambassador Shireen Ebrahim.

“The purpose of the fair is to educate, as well as promote diversity on campus,” Ebrahim, 18, international relations, said. “We also advocate not feeling separated because of culture.”

Singleton said the BSU had only restarted a few weeks prior. At some point, it had disbanded due to lack of interest, although at one time it had been very active on campus. The Fair was the perfect opportunity to recruit new members and raise awareness.

“I just started taking African-American studies and wanted to teach and promote our culture,” Singleton said. “We embrace our culture-why shouldn’t everybody else?”

Elsewhere in the Quad, other clubs had set up booths representing various countries and cultures. Tables were strewn with various native foods, informational books, patriotic symbols, and native attire. As curious students stopped to browse, representatives were on hand to answer questions about the particular culture.

Representatives from the transfer club Ayudando Chicano Latinos A Mover Obstaculos handed out colored necklaces and fliers to promote its upcoming OC Unity Fest concert.

“In the Latino culture, parents of college students encourage their children, but often don’t understand the college process,” Liliana Carrillo, 20, Chicano studies, said.

ACLAMO holds ‘Noche Familia‘ twice a year to educate parents about transferring and to address issues like the California Dream Act,” Carrillo said.

This first-generation Mexican-American student’s goal is to go to law school.

ACLAMO will host a free concert with performances by eight local bands on Thursday, March 29, from 4-9 p.m. in the bowl by the bus loop (located in front of the Health Sciences building). The purpose is to promote awareness, music and unity.

A bit further down the row, the Sociology Club was promoting the Hope for Haiti Project, collecting donations and explaining the objective of the organization.

A major earthquake in January 2010 devastated Haiti, killing more than 300,000 people and leaving over 1 million homeless. The greatest need in Haiti is food, according to the organization’s website, www.hopeforhaitiproject.com.

“Our main focus is the lack of food, especially for children. Most kids don’t live past 5 years old,” Emmanuel Cabello, 21, political science said. “Parents often won’t even give babies names because of the high mortality rate, which is four out of five children don’t survive.”

Cabello said every dollar donated provides four meals.

Hope for Haiti is gearing up for its One Million Meals with Kids Around the World during May. Its goal is to get four containers with 1 million meals to Haiti before the dry season hits. This will feed about 11,000 children during this period. Assembly of food packets will be at Saddleback on Friday and Saturday, May 4 and 5. To volunteer, register at www.kidsaroundtheworldevents.com.

In addition to the informational booths, the event also included culturally-related entertainment including belly dancers and Flamenco dancers.

Although its origins are often debated, many experts say belly dancing is the oldest form of dance, having roots in all ancient cultures from the Orient to India to the Middle East, Turkey and Egypt. The greatest misconception about belly dancing is that it is intended to entertain men, according to bellydance.org.

Laguna Beach-based belly dancers, JJ & the Habibis, provided entertainment. The troupe consisted of a fun-loving group of women whose youngest member was 14-year-old Tatiana. Her mother, also part of the group, painted henna tattoos.

Stacy Alynn of Aliso Viejo said dancing the feminine moves helps take her away from the day-to-day stresses. As she took the stage with her finger cymbals, dressed in flowing, sheer traditional garb, a small crowd of students cheered her on, enticed by her swaying hips and teasing-yet-genuine smile.

Belly dancing is natural to a woman’s bone and muscle structure with movements radiating from the torso rather than in the legs and feet. Experts say it promotes bone health and prevent osteoporosis, according to worldbellydance.com.

“It’s for everyone,” dancer Adrien Diaz of Mission Viejo said. “Belly dancing encompasses all ages.”

High school student Tatiana’s long hair waved back and forth as she danced with the older women. She first saw belly dancers at Soka University and wanted to try it.

“Belly dancing has helped build my confidence,” she said.

Saddleback’s focus on multicultural awareness began in 1993 when the Associated Student Government organized Multicultural Week. The Diversity Council took over the event’s organization when it was established in 2009. 

ACLAMO’s table shared items representative of the Chicano/Hispanic culture. (MaryAnne Shults)

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