UAA’s first Multicultural Fair took place in the Student Union on March 21.
The event offered a chance for students to experience different nationalities through food, singing and dance performances.
“I think it’s a great way to celebrate diversity and inclusion here,” Student Activities coordinator Corey Miller said.
In previous years, the Daily Den has held Global Kitchen events, which focused on food from different cultures. The Student Activities Event Planning team decided to broaden the focus of this event to include more performances. They changed the event to a multicultural fair, which other universities have done.
“What UAA has to offer isn’t just literacy in earning degrees, but also literacy in diverse cultures,” Nicholas Parker, a journalism student who attended the event, said. “[It] was an opportunity for students to expand their mindsets on culture by simply watching unique performances, exotic food and talking to those of different backgrounds.”
The Daily Den and a few individual students served food from different cultures, including Filipino, Russian and Mexican dishes.
Psychology student Phillip Brandon Verano made sinigang na baboy, a Filipino soup with a sour yet sweet taste served over rice.
“From what I was told by my grandmother, it used to be a dish served only for royalty, like the Kastila, [who were] the Spaniards that occupied our country… now it can be enjoyed by everyone,” Verano said.
Verano began cooking with his grandmother when he was very young. He feels it is the strongest way to connect with the origins of Filipino culture.
“Even though our food has been influenced by Latin and Chinese culture, the kind of flair and hospitality just screams Filipino,” Verano said.
While students tasted different cultures, their experience was complimented by several singers and dancers.
Dawn Berg, who works at the Consortium Interlibrary Loan Office, sang folk music from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Though she is Scottish, Berg enjoys other Celtic and British cultures as well.
“I’ve always enjoyed singing all the folk songs,” Berg said. “The first real song I remember is ‘Arthur and Celeste’… maybe when I was three.”
She learned traditional folk songs like the Scottish “Blooming Heather” and the Irish “Tell Me Ma” through her elementary school in Oregon and college in England.
Berg participates in Celtic, British and Amercian folk culture by hosting song circles. Some types of song circles are programmed sing-alongs. Others allow everyone to take a turn requesting and leading a song.
The band Mariachi Agave Azul filled the Multicultural Fair with their resonating voices and instruments. Our Lady of Guadalupe community members started the band in 2010. The current band members are UAA students Isabel Azpilcueta and Javier Acuña, highschool student Oscar Corrales and college graduates Francisco Badillo, German Badillo, Mia Badillo, Mariana Herrera, Leila Spelman and Mark Williams.
“Mariachi music is very cultural. When you hear it, you think Mexico,” Azpilcueta said.
Azpilcueta grew up in Mexico and moved to Alaska when she was 13, taking her love of music with her.
“What helped me get through [the move] was having that connection to my home through the Mariachi band,” she said.
Along with the musical style, a few of the band’s instruments are from Mexico. Fransisco Badillo plays the vihuela and German Badillo plays the guitarrón. These traditional Mexican instruments are similar to a guitar and a bass guitar.
However, not all of the band members are Mexican.
“That’s another thing about our band, we are super diverse. So it’s not just Mexican for Mexican — it’s for everyone,” Azpilcueta said. “I feel like that’s what we are all about: just sharing our culture with other people and also bringing back home people who are so far away.”
That is essentially what the Multicultural Fair itself was all about: celebrating and experiencing a variety of cultures.
In the future, the Student Activities events planning team would like to host more events to celebrate cultures, such as a multicultural fashion show.