By M.A. Rahman
Published: September 26th, 2018
Students Activities Involvement Leadership (SAIL) hosted its annual Diversity Awareness Fair, “Culture Fest,” at the Brooklyn College Student Center, celebrating and showcasing the myriad of students’ cultural traditions, arts, music and food.
Spread throughout the fourth floor of the BC Student Center, students found a place of respite. Its contents: an assortment of free and diverse food, drinks, music, and club presentations to expose prospective students to clubs ranging from the various Greek organizations to the Puerto Rican & Latino Alliance (PRA).
In the eyes of organizers, it was participating clubs like these, along with their respective members, that best showcased BC’s strength in diversity. They seeked to engage with prospective onlookers and educated them about their club’s history, background, heritage, and goals.
“I’m actually not Puerto Rican. I’m Nicaraguan,” Autumn, VP of PRA, said. “It was freshman year…I had gaps in my classes, and I just wanted to meet people,” Autumn said candidly, noting the diversity of PRA’s membership alone.
With the event and “Culture Fest” venue in mind, clubs like PRA chose their own form to express their club’s goals and ideals. PRA showcased their vibrantly colored banners, proudly displaying PRA’s establishment in 1968, along with past papers that cover their work at their table.
“We’ve historically been a politically driven club,” said Autumn. She promoted one of PRA’s lingering goals: getting Indigenous People’s Day recognized and celebrated in lieu of Columbus Day.
Other clubs chose to have a decidedly more tame, if not potentially divisive presentation. Such was the case with Alpha Phi Alpha, an African American based fraternity. Its tremendous banner presentation showed the club’s collective achievements over the past century since being founded in 1906, earning such achievements in spite of the many hardships its members have gone through.
Food was another highlight of the event in its own right. Throngs of students came around to try various cuisines of differing cultural backgrounds, ranging from pasta to empanadas. Some foods students admit they were familiar with but still served as a delectable lunch.
Perhaps one of the more curious organizations present at the Diversity Awareness Fair was the Student Organization for Every Disability United for Progress (SOFEDUP), a club that seeks to cater, work with, and accommodate disabled students.
According to Doreen Brittingham, treasurer of SOFEDUP, it was the SAIL office that put this event together and invited her club. She accepted the invitation saying that while disability does not constitute as a kind of culture, it does, however reflect a community on campus and is a part of their identity. By extension, such a group is a component of BC’s diversity.
Doreen continued speaking about SOFEDUP members and their disabilities saying, “A lot of them don’t talk about it because they’re not as comfortable and would rather stay invisible.” She further stated in a reassuring tone how members that she saw at the event were enjoying themselves.
As the event began to reach its conclusion, a great commotion began to stir. Traditional Caribbean dancers emerged from the halls and danced before a crowd of on looking students fully captivated by the sight.
After watching it and being mesmerized, Khilola Vahobova, a sophomore said, “I’m so grateful to be going to such a diverse school, and ready to dance,” stating that she hopes the next Culture Fest will last longer.