Five groups that represented different cultures from all around the world gathered at the flagpoles on Wednesday, Nov. 6, to perform at the Cross Cultural Center’s annual festival. This year’s theme for their festival and conference was “media and representation,” which sought to understand how media represents or misrepresents different cultures. Even though many are not able to travel abroad to experience other cultures first hand outside of what the media represents, these groups were able to bring the cultural experience to UCI.
For the festival, CCC also had different organizations set up around Ring Road selling foods from a variety of cultures and inviting students to learn about their clubs. These booths were meant to educate students about the different cultural spaces on campus that were intended to further their multicultural experience. Over 24 organizations participated in boothing on Ring Road.
The CCC Fest had a slow start due to some technical difficulties in the sound system. About 30 people were sitting on the steps near the flagpoles, while a few others stood on the side waiting for the festivities and performances to begin. When the music and the program finally started at around 12:15 p.m., the small crowd came to life and cheered as KKAP (Konnect’s KPOP Aspiring Performers) opened with their dance routine. Twelve dancers took center stage as they gave the audience a taste of Korean pop culture with a fusion of upbeat hip-hop style dancing.
The next performance was done by the NOOK Hawaiian Club (“Na ‘Opio O Ka’Aina, meaning “youth of the land”). Six girls wearing long colorful skirts did a traditional slow dance to acoustic beach-like music, moving their hips in slow circular motions and extending and folding their arms in gestures. The varying cultural diversity of the event could be seen by how different the former and latter styles of dance were from each other. By now, the crowd had grown bigger as the music and the activity was attracting more onlookers.
After their dance ended, a man dressed in white and a line of five girls dressed in big, lacy white dresses descended down the steps to the center of the stage and presented their dance. Half of their faces were painted to resemble skulls. This group, called Ballet Folklorico de UCI, presented two songs from the state of Yucatan. The dances they did originated from the Mayan culture in that region.
Jodaiko, a Japanese drumming group on campus performed two songs, titled “The Calm before the Storm” and “Endurance.” By now, the crowd had more than doubled since the beginning and various people were smiling and bobbing their heads to the lively beats.
“They had a lot of energy and the guy in the front looked like he really enjoyed it,” Eric Scholz, a third-year student and onlooker, said.
The five drummers had big smiles on their faces and held concentrated stances as they propelled their arms out and brought them in to strike the drum. Grunts and yells were exchanged between the performers as part of the Japanese tradition. The ease of their movements was betrayed by the perspiration on their foreheads.
“I liked the personality of it, you could see that they really liked what they were doing. But they (the other performances) were all really good,” said Allura Davis, who works for the Center for Educational Partnerships department.
Last but not least, Mariachi Organization de UCI, a new group that started this year, performed two songs. The club’s desire is to help others see the significance of the mariachi culture beyond just its popularity as a genre. Each group gave a distinct and authentic taste of their culture through the choice of music, the type of clothing and the style of performance.
CCC Fest also included a mural competition in which participating organizations were invited to create a mural on the theme of media and representation. The Hmong Student Association won first place in the mural competition, while the Cambodian Awareness Organization and Chinese Association took 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Kevin Huie, director of CCC, expressed his desire for greater cultural sensitivity and shared about the importance of cultural awareness. “I believe that the best way is to interact and engage with others from different cultures. Cultural diversity enriches the learning environment,” he said. “There is likely no other place than in college where students will learn as much as they do from peers who are different than them. Ideally, students will thrive as a result of exploring the differences that exist among them.”