Taste of the World

by Brittany Sell

RACC’s Multicultural/International Club makes it a small world for a day.

Experiencing different cultures through music, fashion, and religion is undeniably important for a college education. Learning how to differentiate and respect the origins of our peers is critical to being wise.

At Reading Area Community College there are many students coming from a broad range of nationalities and ethnicities.  In recognition of the cultural diversity of the student body, the Multicultural/International Club (M/I Club) hosted the International Festival on March 23, for not only RACC students but also the local community. The M/I Club coordinated multicultural offerings in cuisine, fashion, and music.

The mission of the M/I Club is to welcome and celebrate the culture of all individuals on the RACC campus and beyond. In addition, through education of the entire RACC community, the club promotes respect and cultural fluency.

“What I find most valuable about the International Festival is the beautiful display of diversity, inclusion, and support from our campus community,” Monserrate said.

“The way students and staff alike embrace the opportunity to share their own culture as well as learn about the cultures of others is what inspires me most.”

Though Monseratte and Gierenger advise around 20 students in the club, the club and the festival are run by the student members. Their activities are coordinated by Valeria Dominguez, the president, and Joanna Arroyo, the vice president, who focus much of their energy on preparing the International Festival.

Preparation for the festival that entertained the college community is a big task, with work beginning as early as December, Monserrate said. But Dominguez, a science-transfer major of Mexican descent, thinks the work was worth it.  The festival is important because many people cannot tell certain nationalities apart, and trying to appreciate cultural differences can be challenging. The event helps students connect.

Arroyo, a nursing major who, like Dominguez, is of Mexican heritage, claimed that the festival helps strengthen a community bond by fighting racism. For Arroyo, society generally offers limited depictions of different cultures that often are racist. The festival reveals truth about individual cultures and emphasizes the truth of our nation’s unity.

For Dominguez, the fashion show was especially important. The parade of students dressed in traditional garb was a great way for her to show off who she is by wearing some of her culture.

Combining with the parade of international couture and international cuisine from seven local restaurants, was music from Nelson Emokpae, the frontman of Nelly’s Echo, who sang and played a solo set on his guitar. Emokpae was a good choice for the festival because he brings to his rock a mixture of cultures. Emokpae grew up singing as part of the choir in his dad’s church back in his native Nigeria. He did an amazing job of expressing his culture and faith through his singing, making him a perfect fit for the festival.

Though the International Festival is over until next year, the club invites new members. Interested students should contact Dawn Gieringer at dgieringer@racc.edu.