Cultures collide at festival

In Features, Multimedia

The Titan Student Union Pavilions were transformed into a cultural oasis Tuesday night when the Association for InterCultural Awareness (AICA) held its third-annual Culture Couture event.

Guests at the event were transported across the globe by way of artistic expression from a host of cultural performers. The three-hour show featured fashion, art, music and dance performances from students as well as guests.

Vanessa Martinez / Daily Titan
Vanessa Martinez / Daily Titan

Carlos Navarro, 21, AICA administrative chair, said although the association puts on many different events throughout the school year, Culture Couture puts an important emphasis on art.

“This event is focused more on the artistic expression, so of course we wanted artwork, we wanted fashion, performances, we wanted food, all so that students can learn a little about each other’s culture,” said Navarro.

The night began with Baba Storyteller, who whimsically transported the audience to ancient Africa using an authentic African harp.

From there, guests were taken to China, Sudan, the Philippines, Japan and more, all before intermission.

The Japanese Culture club, whose membership includes a broad range of ethnicities, brought both modern and traditional entertainment to the show performing a K-Pop routine followed by a traditional Japanese storytelling dance.

After the intermission, the cultural journey resumed in the Caribbean Islands with a crowd pleasing dance performance.

Debra Carter, 21, AICA’s public relations coordinator, said the performance by the Caribbean Jems Dance Group’s act featured a stilt walker who danced through the audience and a gravity-defying limbo contest.

Cal State Fullerton’s own salsa club shimmied across the stage bringing a vibrant Latin vibe to the show.

Chinese ribbon dancers, Korean Drummers and Native American storytellers were just a few of the traditional acts in the jam-packed culture cornucopia.

However, the night was not only about tradition. Drag performer “Missy Vee,” also known as Yovann Villanueva, 22, a biochemistry student, brought a ferocious dance performance to Lady Gaga’s “Judas.”

Villanueva said participating in events like Culture Couture are important for bringing cultural awareness to the forefront for students.

“It was one of those things that I said ‘Yes I have to,’ because I want to present a part of the gay community that is not necessarily most acknowledged,” said Villanueva.

Along with live performances, the room was filled with art pieces from student artists that are members of cultural clubs on campus. Featured pieces included anime drawings, paintings, sculptures and wax work.

Throughout the night guests were treated to free desserts, including cupcakes and chocolate covered strawberries and traditional Asian cuisine like egg rolls and wontons.

Eddie Richards, a CSUF alumnus, attended Tuesday’s event to show support for AICA and its efforts toward intercultural awareness.

“Anytime we can fellowship as educated people and people on the path of being educated, it’s going to be a good thing,” Richards said.“The enrichment and the enlightenment that we gained from coming today is priceless.”

Navarro, who has been a part of AICA since the first annual Culture Couture, said he thought this year’s event was bigger and better than past years.

Navarro said the organization has been planning the event since November with a heavy focus on public relations.

“This year, I feel as though we really brought it,” he said.

Carter said she enlisted the help of a professional model to appear on four different flyers where she is depicted in traditional fashions from countries like India and China.

With the success of Culture Couture behind them, AICA now looks to their next event, the first annual International Festival.

Navarro and Carter said it will give participants the opportunity to learn about the lives of fellow students and expose them to a wide array of cultures.

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