A Night of Culture

By: Greter Barcelo

As you enter the May Street Building, you are greeted by a couple of well dressed men, and a beautifully decorated entrance. You then pass the portiere onto the red carpet.  Music sounded across the room. Colorful lights surrounded the stage and runway.  Chairs lined up for an up close view of the runway. Decorated tables are further away to give a broad view of the room.  There is an area for an opportunity for selfies, along one of the walls. On the other wall, tables lined up together in preparation for the buffet happening later.  Throughout the room, beautifully dressed guests talked among themselves. Majority of the women in elegant gowns, as well as, outfits from their country.  There was a vast variety of culture spread across the room.

The night began with the Host presenting the Multicultural Gala, coordinated by WSU Third World Alliance.   The first show was a performance from AFROCHELLA. It was amazing to see! It showed the celebration of African Culture with music and dance.  The performers were expressive and very talented. Their outfits were colorful and showed how native to their country was. After the performance there was a pause with music and guests intermingling before the next act.

The Fashion Show was next. Each student walked down the runway like professional models.  The outfits for each model were picked to express their individuality, not by culture. After the 3rd model walked out on the runway, there happened to be technical difficulty. After it was resolved, the Fashion Show restarted from the beginning runway models. Each model walked down with confidence and with perfection. When the Fashion Show was complete, a pause with music commenced.

After a long pause, the Southeast Asian Coalition was presented, this is an organization that helps Southeast Asian countries.  Their mission is “To help Southeast Asians in Central Massachusetts thrive and become advocates and contributing citizens to the greater community while preserving their unique cultural heritage” (http://www.seacma.org/what-we-do-1/). “The Worcester Youth Nian Dancers, or WYND for short, was created in 2009 as a way to channel our youths’ abundant energy into something that is cultural, healthy and positive. Starting from Youtube videos and strong willpower, the team has grown to be one of the most recognized lion dance teams in the Greater Worcester and Boston areas”. (http://www.seacma.org/wynd/). The performance of the WYND was incredible, fun and vibrant.

They started off with the Lion Dance, which is to bring good luck and prosperity. The students were covered in dragon looking lions, there were two students per “lion”. They moved in conjunction with each other, moving across the stage and the audience, “kissing” the guests along the way. After the Lion Dance, there was the Hat Dance. This dance was a small group on stage using their Asian conical hat as a prop, twirling and dancing it around, as the students danced. The performance was whimsical and peaceful.  These performances brought out a great variety of what the Multicultural Gala wanted to express.

After these performances there was Food Intermission. What started as empty tables, was filled with food trays. Each pan was a different dish. First it was Arroz con Gandules, a traditional spanish dish which consisted of rice cooked with pigeon peas as well as some spices.  Then there was grilled chicken, which was well seasoned. There was salad, cookies, lemonade, parcha, and water. Although the food choices were minimal, it was enough to fill you.

Next up was the “Orphanage Movement Break Dance Group”. Although it started with technical difficulties, the group improvised with impromptu acapella from the audience.  This group made the floor their own, with moves like the jack hammer, air flares, head slides, elbow spins, and more. It was mind blowing the moves that this group of men were able to do. They continued to dance when the music sounded.

Next up was the Gala Fashion Show. Here, the student models walked across the runway in their native country’s traditional outfits. There was representation of a lot of African countries, such as Kenya, Ghana, and more, as well as Brazil, El Salvador, India, Southeast Asia and Puerto Rico.  The feeling of being across the world was there, even though not all countries were represented, there was a good amount. This was the final event of the night, before an encore of AFROCHELLA.

Although there was an excessive amount of time between each performance, the night was a time well spent. Chantel, one of the Multicultural Gala Organizers said she “wants students to know that there is a place for them”. The Gala proves that that is possible!  Well done!

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