assistant news editor
First-year Andria Fredriks believes that understanding different backgrounds and cultures leads to a greater understanding and appreciation for different people.
Likewise, Admissions Counselor Jasmine Hairston said that the Christian body of believers is diverse, and therefore recognizing and celebrating various cultures can bring people to a deeper understanding of God.
Both Fredriks and Hairston attended SPU’s Multicultural Celebration held in Martin Square on Friday, May 12.
As the culminating event for SPU’s first-ever Culture Week, this evening was hosted by STUB and Catalyst to bring the SPU community together in celebration of various cultures.
Thundering music and laughter emanated across SPU’s campus from Martin Square, and upon arrival students were seen dancing, and several were dressed in apparel to represent their culture.
Fresh smells of piroshkies, spring rolls, tikki masala with curry and other foods from around the world filled the square and gave visitors the opportunity to try plates from various cultures.
The goal of Culture Week was for students to identify, understand and celebrate culture, and the Multicultural Night was aimed specifically at creating an environment where students could enjoy the “celebration” aspect.
Vice President of Campus Activities and sports reporter for The Falcon Bilen Yitbarek organized the week’s events and invited organizations to come together and create events to fit her overall vision for the week.
“Today we are celebrating … the week as a whole, celebrating each other,” Yitbarek said “[The goal of the week] is to recognize that we all have a culture. It’s not going to be the same as the person sitting next to me or across the room, but we all have one.”
Before the performances began, students gathered in the center of the square, where many of them danced to the songs. The playlist was chosen by students to reflect music from various countries and ranged from Hispanic to Hawaiian and everything in between.
“Tonight you can see that people are getting it,” Yitbarek said. “They are dancing and really just having fun, which is really what tonight’s goal is.”
The second half of Multicultural Night was filled with a variety of performances from cultural groups from the greater Seattle area.
Starting off the performances was the School of Taiko with traditional Japanese drumming. The crowd gathered around the platform, with many seated directly in front of the performers, despite the booming noise.
The drummers were dressed in colorful Kimonos and their facial expressions were in accordance with the rhythm of their music as well as themes of songs.
Later was Ivan-da-Mar’ya, a folk dance ensemble based out of the Russian Community Center in Redmond. The group had a variety of performances, which ranged from slow, melodic dances to lively, upbeat group and partner dances.
Following the dances by Ivan-da-Mar’ya was Gasango music and dance, which featured traditional and contemporary West African music and dance.
Members who performed at Multicultural Night were from African countries such as Benin, Ghana and Togo. Gasango’s performance began with song and percussion music and moved to group and solo dances. At one point Etienne Cakpo, the director of Gasango, made the event more interactive and led students in a dance.
The energy from the dance events seemed to spread as students filled Martin Square, even when it began to rain. Between groups, students began their own lively dance party in the middle of the square as they awaited the next performance.
“I think it’s really cool,” said sophomore Makayla Hordyk. “It’s fun to see SPU bring different cultures to campus.”
“People are heavily influenced by the context in which they have been raised,” Diaz said. “In an effort to be more aware of where people are coming from and who they are, we need to recognize different cultures.”