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The Blue & Gray Press | February 17, 2018

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Students and community come together to celebrate diversity

BY NEPHTHALIE LAUTURE and SEQUOI PHIPPS

fair1 The James Farmer Multicultural Center (JMCC) hosted its 24th annual Multicultural Fair on Campus Walk to promote and enhance multiculturalism within the University of Mary Washington and local Fredericksburg community.
Held on Saturday April 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the event attracted several thousand guests from the University of Mary Washington and the surrounding community.
Visitors had the opportunity to try ethnic cuisine, watch performances and shop at vendors representing cultures from all over the world.
One vendor, Eve Mendoza, said, “We’re from the Philippines, so a lot of our stuff is island related. Shells and a lot of natural products. We have parasols that are made from bamboo. We’re very diverse. We have a lot of minorities that are integrated.”
Cordula Dahal, a first time vendor at the Multicultural fair from Dumfries, was selling her hand made jewelry and accessories made from raw materials from Nepal and Tibet. Dahal also runs Nepal Dance School while selling jewelry in association under the name Yak Yak Yak Nepal.
“I like vending to students because they are more into ethnic and boho styles,” Dahal said.
Four locations on campus were designated for performers and Ball Circle was used for food vendors and served as a leisure area for guests.
The 40 performances, averaging between 30 to 40 minutes each, were split between George Washington Hall, Lee Hall, Trinkle Hall, and Monroe Halls.
UMW dance troop Eagle Bhangra performed as well, showcasing traditional Indian Bhangra dance styles.
“I didn’t realize that there was going to be such a big crowd; and we really played off of their energy,” said Shibani Gautam, a sophomore political science major and member of Eagle Bhangra. “It’s interesting to see all the cultures come together. It shows what UMW is all about when we talk about diversity.”
The George Washington Hall stage hosted performances from various groups, such as the Muggivan School of Irish Dance and the PRISM dancers, who specialized in various styles of Middle Eastern dance.
Lee Hall hosted performances from UMW’s step team, the Alter Egos, Alberto Limonta Perez and Cesar Orozco, an Afro- Cuban Latin Jazz duo and the popular closing event, the Multicultural Fashion Show, which showcased traditional international clothing.
Audiences at Trinkle viewed acts by Christylez Bacon, a progressive hip hop artist whose work has been featured on NPR and iTunes. Ras Lidj and Deep Band, a reggae Band, also performed.
“My favorite part was watching some of the reggae performances because it reminded me of my own culture which was very unique and special for me. I am Jamaican so I really look forward to the Multicultural Fair because there are definitely prominent parts of my culture incorporated into this event, whether that may be the music, food or meeting other Caribbean people,” said senior political science major Shanice Black.
Monroe Hall was designated for children’s activities. Winding Creek Elementary School performed an African percussion ensemble. The Asian Student Association, Black student Association and several other minority association clubs hosted children’s arts and crafts, which ranged from costume making to finger painting.
The planning process for the multicultural event begins a year in advance. Various on campus and off campus organizations contributed to ensure the success of the fair. The Office of Student Life and SAE aided with logistics. UMW Media and Public Relations, along with local publications such as Fredericksburg Parent and Family Magazine and Whurk advertised for the event.
“Well since I am a staff member for the James Farmer Multicultural Center, we are in charge of putting the event together,” said junior Gigi Hachim, “It has been a yearlong project. We’ve been calling vendors and organizing things for the fair. It is our job to stay looking professional because we represent the Multicultural Center and the university. There are a lot of people that don’t go here that come just to see the fair. So our number one thing was to stay positive.”
Students and community members look forward to the Multicultural Fair each year, as it signals both the end of the school year and an opportunity to celebrate the diversity at UMW.
Sophomore biology major Brittany Hylander was just one of the students who enjoyed the warm weather and good food.
“It’s cool to experience different cultures by hearing their music and tasting their food all in one place alongside people of all cultures and ages,” said Hylander.