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SURC ballroom gets culture shocked

Derek Shuck, Staff Reporter - November 14, 2012

Kilts and kimonos are not a typical sight at Central Washington University. While most people are aware of their heritage, few take the time to show off their culture in the way they dress.

This trend was shattered when Central held its seventh annual Parade of Nations in the SURC Ballroom on Nov. 7.

The event was put on by the Center for Diversity and Social Justice, as well as the Equity Services Council, ASCWU-BOD, Native American Student Association, Filipino American Student Association, M.E.Ch.A., Black Student Union, Pacific Islander Cultural Dance Club, Muslim Student Association, Asia University America Program and International Studies.

More than 50 students celebrated their rich history by either dressing in garments representing their country, or giving a performance relevant to their culture.

“To have an area where [diversity] is shown all at once to a full house, to get the word out that there’s more than just white people here at Central, it’s pretty cool,” Alex Ambrose, junior environmental studies major said.

Ambrose is part of the Center for Diversity and Social Justice, who helped put on the event. She helped put together several video packages about each continent, which ran through the night. The center made sure a wide variety of cultures were represented.

The ballroom looked more like a concert hall as flashing lights and a spotlight flashed across the room, packed with filled seats. An excited atmosphere filled the air as students chattered about seeing friends on stage.

Starting the night in North America, 17 different participants marched down an expansive catwalk. Being led by Wellington Wildcat, everything from football players to traditional Mexican cowboys were represented.

After the march, several participants took time to perform. The crowd remained silent as an intimate Native American union song was performed, and cheered wildly as a festive Mexican folk song was played.

After some time spent in North America, the event shifted south as a video teaser on South America played. Once again led by Wellington, 10 students proudly marched for countries including Brazil and Ecuador.

Representing Peru, local dance group “Da Maestros” gave a hip-hop performance, including a break-dancing section that left the crowd in a fit of cheers.

Traveling to the East, Europe was up next. Celebrating its long history, a wide variety of fashion was shown off, from Scottish kilts to traditional German lederhosen.

Representing Northern Europe, senior pre-pharmaceutical major Robert VonNeida played a folk song, leaving the crowd silent.

“Whatever kind of system you’re looking at, biological or political, diversity only strengthens it,” VonNeida said after the performance, explaining why he felt it was important to participate.

Splitting up Asia, a short video played about West Asia, which included the Middle East. Led by Wellington, students representing everywhere from Saudi Arabia to Iran to Kuwait proudly marched. A traditional Middle Eastern dance was performed to give the audience a taste of the region.

Moving on to West Asia, the performances became more diverse, as a guitar solo was followed by a traditional Kabuki performance.

Africa was represented next. A parade of about 10 participants rocked African clothing, laughing and joking with each other the whole time.

Finishing the night was Oceania, representing the various islands surrounding the Australian region.

Perhaps the loudest cheer of the night was for a ukulele player who sang a love song based around Pokémon. Reflecting the relaxing nature of the Oceania Islands, the song inspired the audience to clap and sing along.

As the night came to a close, the participants gathered together for one big group picture.
“You couldn’t see it, but everyone was interacting in the back,” said Jed Clark, a senior electronics technology major who performed the traditional New Zealand dance, the Haka, with the rest of the Fillipino American Student Association. “All the cultures get a taste of the other regions.”

The feeling of unity was not lost on the audience.

“It’s an important thing to be proud of who you are,” said Markus Chisholm, a graduate student who is part of the resource management masters program.

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