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Whitney Hall kicks off Diversity Week


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Published 2009-05-13T00:00:00Z”/>

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Delaine Moore

Vibrant dress colors, dancing through sticks, stepping and poetry made up the Diversity Week at Whitney Hall, which showcased performances by four student cultural organizations.

The Diversity Week was held Monday, May 4, through Friday and was planned by freshman Marissa Brown, programming chairwoman of Whitney Hall Council, and sophomore Spencer Blair, Cross Cultural Leadership Center paraprofessional.

“I thought it would be a great end-of-the-year program and interaction between us and the freshmen,” Brown said. “It allows them to experience different cultures they may not have before.”

The first event took place Monday night, with the Hmong Student Association performing a traditional dance, and the Filipino American Student Organization performing the Tinikling dance.

The Hmong dance was performed to a song in remembrance of the older ways in Thailand and Laos, said sophomore Kristen Lee, English major. The performers used symbolic gestures to coordinate the moves to what the song is about.

“This event is a good way to promote the Hmong culture,” Lee said. “A lot of students don’t know about the Hmong culture, which I think is very surprising because there is a big population of Hmong people in Chico.”

The Tinikling dance, which was performed second, is a rhythm dance using long bamboo sticks for the dancers to move in between.

The traditional dance represents the farming culture in the Philippines, Blair said. The bamboo sticks represent the bamboo farmers placed in the fields to ward off birds from their crops. The dancers represent the birds attempting to get through the sticks.

On Wednesday, the Ballet Folklorico performed its traditional Mexican dance, which celebrates the richness of the culture by depicting different types of dance from various states in Mexico, Blair said.

“I have built strong relationships with each student group and have learned a great deal from them,” Blair said, “I must say I had the most fun watching Ballet Folklorico because I have never seen them perform so close.”

Closing out Diversity Week, the Men of Honor performed poetry and stepping Friday night.

Stepping showcases the original African dance practices that are commonly associated today with black Greek organizations, Blair said. The art of stepping exemplifies free expression and represents unity and positive attributes of the African-American community.

Although not many students attended the events of the Diversity Week, with a crowd of about 15 students each night, the students who did go enjoyed the cultural showcases, including freshman Alejandra Rodriguez, psychology major.

“I think it’s cool,” Rodriquez said. “It lets us see other cultures and get to see them in a more entertaining way.”

The Diversity Week was the first of its kind this year at Whitney Hall, and was organized to educate freshmen on the different cultures on campus, Blair said. The events focused on showing students an authentic performance of each culture, something that was more entertaining for students to participate in.

“The groups that I chose to perform have worked extremely hard in spreading cultural awareness, and in a sense they are the best at what is done on this campus,” Blair said.

There were some time and scheduling conflicts that didn’t allow for all of the groups that had planned to perform, including a drumming circle performance by the American Indian Club, and another step show by a group called Feet of Nature, Blair said.

The planning of the groups that did perform didn’t go off without a hitch, and the organizers had a hard time advertising and getting people to attend, Blair said. But even with those complications, the hope at Whitney Hall and CCLC is that the event will evolve to reach more students in the future.

“The diversity on campus is remarkable, but unrecognized by the majority of our campus, especially freshman students,” Blair said.

Delaine Moore can be reached at <a href= “javascript:void(location.href=’mailto:’+String.fromCharCode(100,109,111,111,114,101,64,116,104,101,111,114,105,111,110,46,99,111,109)+’?subject=re%3A%20Whitney%20Hall%20kicks%20off%20Diversity%20Week’)”> [email protected]</a>

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