Friends, fun, food and dances from around the world are just a few of the activities that will be available during UCI’s 19th annual Rainbow Festival on Nov 4-5.
The purpose of this event is to celebrate the diversity in UCI’s student body and give students a chance to learn at least one aspect of a culture that they did not learn about in K-12, according to Anna K. Gonzalez, director of the Cross-Cultural Center.
Gonzalez said the festival has evolved from being a cultural fair with food and a fiesta to a weeklong event with a conference and an emphasis on education.
‘The purpose of the event has shifted. Within the last five years the Rainbow Festival has become a lot more political. It is definitely a lot riskier in nature, the themes are a lot more proactive and activist,’ Gonzalez said.
The Rainbow Festival will kick off with a keynote address by Ariana Huffington, who was one of the candidates for the California governship in last month’s recall election. There will also be lectures by UCI faculty members. On Ring Road there will be a club fair featuring booths of various cultural clubs on campus.
This year’s theme for the Rainbow Festival is ‘think globally and act locally.’
‘We always try to address the hot topics and the theme is particularly important this year because we are all global citizens and our responsibilities are not only to our own communities, but to the community at large,’ said Vevesi Save, program coordinator of the Cross-Cultural Center.
According to Save, being a global citizen involves paying attention to the events and issues that are important in the world, and then acting on them locally.
‘I think it’s important for us to think about those issues and then to challenge ourselves with questions such as how do we make things better or how do we work toward a better solution or future,’ Save said.
According to Gonzalez, the very first step that students can take in becoming global citizens is to join a cultural club.
‘It is a political act to say, I am Asian-American and I am going to belong in a group that promotes Asian-American culture,’ Gonzalez said.
Salvador G. Sarmiento, a fourth-year Chicano-Latino Studies major and a member of MEChA believes a majority of the cultural organizations on campus represent communities that have been historically underrepresented and underprivileged.
‘The fact that these organizations represent cultures that have been historically oppressed is of political significance,’ Sarmiento said.
Gonzalez acknowledges that there are some students who feel that they do not have a culture or who might not be interested in exploring what their culture is and the goal of the Cross Cultural Center is to change that.
According to Gonzalez, regardless of whether a person thinks that he or she is a cultural being or a racial person, the reality is that race visibly exists in this nation.
‘There is diversity all around and students will have to face that sooner or later. They are going to have to interact with it throughout their lifetimes,’ Gonzalez said.
She encourages students who may have uncertain feelings about culture to come and explore the different clubs.
According to Sarmiento, another reason that UCI students should support the Rainbow Festival is that it brings to light the different cultures on our campus through their respective organizations.
Despite the numerous cultural clubs on campus, Sarmiento said there are a lot of people who are cynical about how much diversity there is at UCI. According to Sarmiento, many students say that there is no diversity at UCI because the majority of students are Asian.
‘How can people make such a statement? In reality many students don’t even know how diverse the Asian-American community is here at UCI; Asian students come from various different cultures and countries,’ Sarmiento said.
He also added that a lot of people talk about diversity or the lack of it but very few people go out and proactively learn about it.
According to Sarmiento, cultural clubs and the Rainbow Festival are a great way for UCI students to proactively learn about a community from a group of people who identify with that community.