Culture Fest – Students showcase language, food and performance

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With about 45 cultural student organizations on campus, one of the best ways for students to explore these different cultures is Tech’s annual CultureFest—a week-long schedule of activities sponsored by Culture Tech and AIESEC, featuring activities by eleven student organizations.

Culture Tech has hosted this event since 1985, stemming from the Annual International Festival, and attracts at least 500 students to each one. This year, there were over 2,000 students taking part in the four events throughout the week: the International Food Festival, Language Lunch, International Film Series and Night Market.

The International Food Festival was Monday’s main attraction. The line of ethnic foods, cooked and served by their respective student associations for $5 per person, yielded a completely packed to-go tray by the end of the line.

The Global Village, hosted by AISEC, provided booths for student organizations to set up informational centers—and, of course, more food and drinks—for their club and culture. At the Global Village, students could also use “passports”—cards signed by each student organization upon interacting with their booths—to score a free t-shirt and gelato.

“I went to the [International Food Festival Fair and Global Village], and all the booths were fun and entertaining,” said Michael Wong, first-year EE, “I really liked the Haitian and Chinese booths.”

On Monday evening, Fourth Street Apartments hosted an International Coffee Hour, where students could practice language skills and learn about the country of Turkey and its culture over Turkish coffee.

Starting Tuesday morning, the language events continued with students from the Language Institute and student organizations hosting the Language Lunch, a new event this year. Students could visit a kiosk on Skiles Walkway and learn conversational basics of different languages.

“I went to the International Food Festival and the Language Lunch. It was a great experience. It’s always nice trying different types of foods and discovering that you like them, like Korean bulgogi or Thai iced tea,” said Pamela Chi, first-year BME, “The language lunch was really fun, even though I couldn’t pronounce any of the phrases right, because the people were really enthusiastic.”

From Tuesday to Friday starting at 6:30 p.m., the Student Center Theater and the Student Success Center’s Clary Theater hosted the International Film Series. Along with the movie there was a post-screening discussion with professors as special guests. The films were selected to highlight a particular culture and the importance of the integration of language; those films were J.S.A.: Joint Security Area, Good Bye Lenin!, Lagaan and Ten Canoes.

The evenings as a whole were intended to explore cultures at Tech and the surrounding community “in an effort to highlight the human characteristics that we all share,” according to Culture Tech’s website.

The final event will be the Night Market, sponsored by the Taiwanese-American Student Association on Friday (Apr. 9) night. The night will host live music and dance performances by student associations in the Biotech Quad from 7 p.m.-10 p.m.

Being one of Tech’s biggest student-organized events, CultureFest was heavily advertised, with help from several of Tech’s academic and staff departments advertising the event on their main pages. Student organizations and institute departments such as the Language Institute—who also helped with the Language Lunch—recruited and contributed volunteer support to aid in logistics.

Being one of Tech’s biggest student-organized events, CultureFest was heavily advertised, with help from several of Tech’s academic and staff departments advertising the event on their main pages and recruiting volunteers.

One issue this year was funding. SGA has been a major funding source for events, considering the impact CultureFest has on campus; however, SGA has recently withdrawn some funding for the event.

“Unfortunately, Culture Tech was not given all the funding [by SGA] that was asked for, despite the Food Fest being a Tech tradition for the last 27 years. Culture Tech cannot manage on a budget so low and this will negatively impact our events in the future,” Ajeya Karajgikar, fourth-year ME and president of Culture Tech, said, “This is one of the few events that caters to international students and has always had a positive impact on campus by promoting diversity.”

Culture Tech is sponsored by the Office of International Education (OIE), which advocates international curriculum and students studying abroad at Tech. Culture Tech works closely with them during CultureFest week.

“There are typically two or three OIE advisors at any given time, helping out during the Food Fair event so that there is a smooth flow of people sampling the international cuisines while the students are serving what they have proudly prepared,” said Gwen Fernandes, International Student Advisor and faculty advisor of Culture Tech.

OIE and Fernandes also help new officers with preparation for Culture Fest and give general guidance on contacts and planning for the events.

Culture Tech is a student organization and meets in the Student Center; email gtculturetech@gmail.com to attend meetings or join.

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