As students stood in a semi-circle in the middle of the Quad and held the flags of the countries that they proudly represented, the colors of every nation were shining brightly at Bellarmine’s first annual cultural faire on May 12th, an event designed to promote diversity and unity.
After a divisive year both politically and socially, the cultural faire was meant to bring people closer together through a celebration of shared culture and heritage. “The purpose of the cultural faire is to celebrate and educate the community about our diversity, to tear down walls, and to create understanding,” said Ms. Antonio, a moderator for the Filipino Student Association.
The event was the culmination of a continued and collective effort to promote community among different cultures. The newly formed Unity Council, a group of representatives from each cultural club, planned and executed the event. “We have all these different cultures on campus, and there’s more power in numbers,” Ms. Antonio explained. “We wanted to come together because especially after the election we needed a place to talk. The Unity Council is the place to create community and build those bridges.”
Music, dance, and poetry took the stage as students shared their cultural traditions with the Bellarmine community. Senior Miguel Diaz performed a poem expressing his pride and identity as a Mexican-American. Junior Cameron Haynes of the Black Student Union led a performance of a traditional African song on the drums as an homage to his heritage. Junior Jerome Reduta, member of the Japanese-American Friendship Club, performed Rakugo, a Japanese tradition where a solo performer acts out every role in a story. The Indian Student Coalition’s dance team performed a routine which combined traditional Indian dance and song with modern variations of pop and hip-hop. The Filipino Student Union performed a variety of dances and songs, one of them the Tinikling, as the dancers moved their feet gracefully between bamboo sticks. “We wanted to take the aspect of combining different cultures and displaying multiple cultures in one fair,” Sophomore Gabriel Young added. “There are some affinity and culture clubs that do not get enough recognition. I think it’s an important thing to have this cultural faire to get more exposure to different cultures and traditions.”
Not only were various countries represented, but Bellarmine also sought to promote acceptance and diversity in sexual orientation as the Gay-Straight Alliance raised awareness of stigmas around homosexuality. “We wanted to create a safe, open space, so you can be comfortable with who you are,” said Sophomore Christian Nuñez, a member of the Gay-Straight Alliance. Senior Alex Aguirre shared a drag performance . Junior Charles Tanedo, performed an original poem about the difficulties of finding one’s voice.
The Unity Council and the various culture clubs hope to continue promoting diversity and acceptance moving forward. After the overwhelming success of the cultural faire, the Unity Council wants to continue celebrating different cultures as the Justice Summit transitions to the topic of racism for the 2017-2018 school year.
“We did not expect it to be as big to as it ended up being,” said Ms. Antonio. “In the end we found that all these different pieces worked well together. In March, we have our summit on racism, and we plan to make the event much larger.”