Multi cultural day held at Saddleback

Kara Willingham

Dancing styles from all over the world were the main attraction in the Village quad on April 24. Multi cultural day showcased different student run campus clubs and gave students a sample of their culture.

Clubs such as Buddhists for World Peace, the House on campus and the American Sign Language club set up booths with food, pictures and information.

“We are here promoting our club,” said Buddhists for world peace club member Masako Fuji, 22, general studies “We want more people to join and we are promoting world peace.”

The variety of food was almost unlimited, at one booth students snacked on fried chicken and pizza while at the APAC table the cultural food was egg rolls. The food was determined by the ICC members.

The entertainment caught many students’ eyes as they walked through the village. Mexican Folkloric dancers with flowing white dresses twirled around, and a group of young Irish dancers called Celtic Gold, showed off their competition routines in colorful costumes. Celtic Gold was invited on the advice of Saddleback President Richard D. McCullough.

“I was very pleased that we were able to have such a diverse group of performers like Irish Celtic, Middle Eastern (Arabic and Persian), Vietnamese, Mexican Folkloric dancers and STEP performances,” said Norma Yanni, Chair of the Multi-cultural Celebrations at Saddleback College. “I also enjoyed the diversity chants that Soka University students provided. The food is always great because we intend to provide only ‘authentic’ ethnic foods and we work with the clubs and the students to try and obtain the same.”

Since 2003 Yanni and the ICC members have put on different events to help the campus celebrate diversity. The event was funded by ASG and the President’s office and has been in the preparation process since March.

“My intent was to have as much diversity as I possibly can,” Yanni said. “I still think there are a lot more groups that were not represented, but every year we should add more groups.”

Yanni said that most clubs on campus are involved in the multicultural program, entitled the Kaleidoscope of Diversity.Not only are clubs involved but ICC and ASG play an active role in multi-cultural events on campus.

“It is an opportunity for people to experience diversity within our campus,” said ASG member Stephanie Hair, 19, sociology. “We need some cultural appreciation.”

The applause for the dancers showed that students appreciated what they were doing.

“There are a number of things we can get out of events like this such as teaching us what is the true culture and not the Americanized version of the culture, the difference between groups. i.e. there is a tendency to see all the Latinos and Mexican Americans as one group, but they are not,” Yanni said. “There is a tendency to put all the Arabs and Persians as the same, and they are not the same. They are two distinct and different cultures. Even within the Arabic culture, there are sub cultures that you can’t put them all in one category and one culture. If we do that, we dismiss the value of people.”

Toward the end of the event, the Vietnamese Students Association from the University of California at Irvine performed a routine with an authentic dragon costume.

In the past, students would stop by an event, grab some free food and head off to class, but recently nominated ICC director Liz Dayrit, 20, nursing was pleasantly surprised.

“Out of all the events during the school year students don’t usually stay but students got involved this year and you don’t really see that happen at Saddleback,” Dayrit said. “I joined ICC because I want to help promote student involvement, there is always room for improvement but the clubs’ purpose today was to promote their club and at the same time the country they are trying to represent.”

Students on breaks from class came out to watch the dancers and were interested in the event right away.

“It’s interesting and fun,” said Erica Leyenaai, 19, psychology. “I’m comparing [the dances] to different ones I have seen before. I would come [to multi-cultural day] again.”

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