Nearly 200 people filled the Media Union Art Gallery yesterday
to taste and experience international culture.

Mira Levitan
Engineering graduate student Jaspreet Dhupia samples food from the table of the Muslim Student Association during the Cultural Fair at Pierpont Commons yesterday. (TONY DING/Daily)

Commemorating the diversity that Martin Luther King, Jr.
represented, seven student multicultural groups showcased food and
gave insight into their cultures. The event was sponsored by the
American Society for Engineering Education.

ASEE president Sean Holleran said all multicultural
organizations on campus were invited to participate within the
fair. Each group that does attend was given money to help create a
booth that illustrates its culture to the public.

“This event is open to the public. We wanted everyone in
the community to come and celebrate the spirit of this
event,” Holleran said. “This event is really a
celebration of the cultural diversity representative of the
University of Michigan campus.”

Student groups like the Hellenic Student Association, Filipino
American Student Association, Muslim Student Association, and Seni
Silat Haqq participated within the fair.

The HSA offered different foods for the public to try, such as
spanakopita or spinach pies. Members also wrote people’s
names in Greek.

“Writing their names in Greek allowed them to see how
Greek is a part of everyday life because they can sometimes
recognize the Greek from a math or science class, and it’s
fun to see their reactions and surprise,” HSA Vice President
Alice Shukla said.

Seni Silat Haqq, an Indonesian and Malaysian group that performs
martial arts dance, screened videos of their past performances.

“Having cultural fairs such as this one helps bridge the
different cultures and come together through the connecting of
hearts,” said Ibrahim Gross, a member of Seni Silat Haqq.

The Filipino American Student Association participated in the
fair for the first time this year. Members of the group said they
were surprised in the interest that many people took in their
group.

“The fact that different people (that aren’t
Filipino) can share our culture is what really amazed me. I think
it’s important that everyone teaches and learns about other
cultures,” said FASA social chair Nina Paneda, an LSA
sophomore.

“What surprises me is how interested other people can be
in my culture, and it really inspires me personally to learn about
other cultures.”

Engineering sophomore Eric Bidelman said he attended the event
yesterday because he knew some people who were organizing it.

“I really loved the food and the different things
I’ve seen here,” Bidelman said.

Engineering senior Kristina Schmitt also attended the fair.
“I like when everyone comes out and shows their culture. We
see American culture all the time, but not too often do we have
time to get to learn about the various cultures that embody our
community,” Schmitt said.

This is the third year that ASEE sponsored this multicultural
affair. Holleran said it allows the group to join in the annual MLK
celebrations.

“Martin Luther King’s influence and philosophy has
helped promote cultural diversity. The College of Engineering gave
us a chance to express that through an event of our choice, and I
think this helps capture the spirit of his teachings and convey it
to the public,” said Holleran.

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