South Quad hosts first 'cultural carnival'

BY EBONI MACK
For the Daily
Published January 18, 2005

Students wishing to gain a better understanding of different cultures could take a quiz to try to label the Canadian provinces, play an African board game called mankala, listen to hip-hop music or try foods like pita bread and hummus at South Quad Residence Hall’s first-ever Cultural Carnival on Sunday.

In accordance with the University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium, the event aimed to break down ethnic stereotypes by making students aware of cultures with which they might not be familiar.

Booths were set up by students to represent various cultural groups. Many of the booths used poster boards, ethnic foods and games to educate viewers on their cultures.

LSA sophomore Kwaku Sareong-Agyeman, who helped run the African booth, said it is beneficial for people to learn and ask questions about cultures they would not normally be exposed to.

“It’s like an informational session,” he said.

At the Israeli booth, LSA junior Roy Braid commented on the importance of events to educate students about different cultures. Braid added that it is important to have different countries represented because people know about their own cultures, but should also be educated about others.

William Huang, an LSA student and representative at the Chinese booth, said he hoped the carnival would be held again next year.

“It’s a really great idea,” he said, also calling it “a great way to get a feel for other cultures.”

Huang added that learning about new cultures from peers also helps to eliminate stereotypes students might have about those culture.

But some presentations created tensions between the different groups.

The spokesman of the Israeli Student Organization, Orrin Pail, said he was disturbed by a Power Point presentation that was part of the Arab display, which he considered an attack on Zionism and the state of Israel.

“I was very angry to see the Arab cultural table bring politics into the environment and found many of their statements offensive and inappropriate in a place that is meant for people to embrace their own cultures, not attack others,” Pail said.

But LSA sophomore Rama Salhi, who represented the Arab culture, said it was important for students to also be aware of the current political situations of their cultures, since other cultures have impacted their own.

South Quad’s Residence Staff, the Honors Program and South Quad’s Multicultural Council organized the carnival. Jennifer Black, a South Quad resident advisor, said attendance at the cultural carnival had been better than expected.