CultureFEST: Celebrating Brock’s diversity

Photo Credit: Zoe Archambault

Photo Credit: Zoe Archambault

Food, trivia and more! CultureFEST is a celebration of the diversity found on Brock’s campus. The International Centre hosts CultureFEST twice a month to showcase different cultures and promote student exchanges. The CultureFEST event that took place on September 13 featured local food and informative presentations from the United Kingdom and Japan.

“CultureFEST is really a chance for our incoming students and our international students to showcase their home cultures with the rest of the Brock community. We are so fortunate to have students from all over the world studying here at Brock,” said Dan Portanova, the coordinator of the CultureFEST event series.

CultureFEST features informational presentations, new foods and cultural traditions. Although CultureFEST is meant to educate, these events are informal and also intended to be social opportunities.

At this CultureFEST, students have the chance to share daily occurrences from their home country. From food, to language, to sports CultureFEST gives an authentic take on the different cultures that make up Brock’s student body. Topics are decided by the presenting students to ensure it is a genuine account of their home.

“Sports, pop culture and who the famous musicians [are in the given country] and of course, there is always food,” said Portanova about what the presentations usually include.

In addition to those topics, Portanova said that students who participate in CultureFEST often find it interesting to compare slang and different dialectics from various regions.

The student-led presentations are an integral part of ensuring that this event truly reflects the exchange student’s home. Portanova emphasizes the importance of the practice to create authentic representations of different countries.

“I think it is important for Brock students to take in those experiences outside the classroom, [the information] shared at CultureFEST is the day-to-day things about the culture, not necessarily the things you can read on the internet, it is coming from a student that has lived those experiences,” said Portanova.

For this CultureFEST, the exchange students from Japan presented first. They shared information about the various regions of Japan along with cuisine, culture and trends in the areas. They highlighted harajuku fashion, the rising popularity of vending machines in urban centres (selling anything from bananas to puppies) and the technological advances the country offers. At the conclusion of the presentation they offered the audience an opportunity to try authentic somen noodles.

Students from the United Kingdom then shared their favourite local foods and sightseeing spots around Birmingham. They emphasized the nightlife, the camaraderie of soccer clubs and the ease of travelling due to their comprehensive subway system.

Aside from learning some new slang or tasting new cuisine, CultureFEST concerns itself with educating the Brock community on the value and importance of multiculturalism.

“It is hard to recognize [multiculturalism] in your classes. Canada is very multicultural already so sometimes we don’t realize the true diversity that exists in our classrooms,” said Portanova,. “This event really highlights that. It gives a chance for those students to share a little bit about their home with Brock.”

The next CultureFEST is September 27 at 3:00 p.m. in the Global Commons of the International Centre featuring Ireland and the Netherlands. Those who wish to get involved in CultureFEST and share their cultures can e-mail intlmobility@brocku.ca for more information.

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