SPU learns appreciation for all our differences

Chloe Guillot

Multicultural Celebration promotes diverse community

A Brazilian group, known as VamoLá, performs with the students. Maileca Gontinas | The Falcon

The faint smell of kimchi fried rice and pork carnitas tacos hung over Martin Square as a group of African drummers played a rhythmic beat.
One drummer stepped into the middle of the square, combining traditional with modern as he performed West African dances mixed with a series of moves found in Fortnite.

These were the sights and sounds of the annual Multicultural Celebration, taking place on May 11.

Through various cultural performances and dishes, the event aimed to celebrate diversity in the Seattle Pacific University community and to make every student feel as if they are valued.

“We wanted MCC to be an event where students could come celebrate their differences instead of putting them aside,” said Hermon Mekuria, the STUB chair for the event.

VamoLá performs with instruments for the crowd in Martin Square. Maileca Gontinas | The Falcon

Sponsored by STUB and Catalyst, the Multicultural Celebration featured performances from various regions, including a Native American storyteller, a Brazilian drum and dance ensemble and salsa instructors, in addition to the West African drummers.

There was also food from Ethiopia, the Pacific Islands, Korea and Mexico served in stations around the square.

Merkuria said that she aimed to bring in performers from cultures that have not come to campus in recent years, trying to gather the most diverse group she could for the event. By promoting these different cultures, Mekuria hoped to bring a sense of awareness of each other to the campus.
“I feel like since we’re such a small private school, and because we are a Christian school, we kind of lose the community aspect of the school,”

Mekuria said. “I just hope that is incorporated into this event.”

The group VamoLá!, a collection of Brazilian dancers and drummers, got people dancing as they encouraged students to step into the square and participate in a few Brazilian dances.

Two of the dancers, Ashley Deas and Marian Wagner, were grateful for the excitement that the students displayed as they jumped into the dance.

“Sometimes you perform and people are just really polite, but today you could just feel the energy and everybody wanted to dance with us so that was really fun,” Deas said.

“It was probably one of my favorite performances so far.”

Wagner, who views her performances as a meaningful expression of Brazilian culture, recognized the beauty of being able to help students see a variety of other cultures expressed by people who have passion for their art.

“It’s an honor to be part of a show that is clearly finding talented people and respecting what they symbolize and an audience that really cares,” Wagner said.

“They’re really enjoying it and being part of it and taking it all in so it’s really special.”

That energy and excitement carried through the performances and beyond, as students were participants in every performance of the night, often through dances.

Traditional dances bring in a crowd at the multicultural celebration. Marissa Lordahl | The Falcon

When the performances drew to a close, a large of group of students continued to dance in Martin Square as music blared from the speakers.

After a night of cultural celebration, freshman Rebekah Huber felt the power and significance of the night, reflecting on how everything, from the performances to the dances, helped promote a sense of acceptance for the different cultures.

“I think just having a broad variety of cultures showcased during this event helps increase appreciation for people who don’t have the same backgrounds or stories as us, and just hearing those stories expressed and being able to appreciate them is what this is for,” Huber said.

The event set out to help students from diverse backgrounds feel as though they belonged, and as students danced together in Martin Square after a night of togetherness, the sense of belonging and community felt strong, if only for one night.