German tongue-twisters and Chinese yo-yo performances aren’t an everyday spectacle, but they were crowd pleasers at the Culture Festival held by the language department on Friday, April 7.
In previous years, the festival was held in the cafeteria, but this year, the two-hour-long performance was held in the theater. As in previous years, the aim of the festival was to expose the audience to activities from different cultures, ranging from Spain and France to China and Germany. Performances showcased various talents such as singing, dancing, and slam poetry.
The language department hoped to engage students who would otherwise not have the chance to see and interact with the more interesting aspects of other cultures.
Students responded positively to the festival. “I had a great time seeing everyone presenting the hard work they have done preparing for the show. I loved the great mix of humor and talent throughout the show. Originally, I went for extra credit, but it was super fun and exciting,” sophomore Brandon Chong said.
Similar to Chong, many noted that although they had initially attended the festival because of academic incentives, the show far exceeded their expectations. “I went to the fair last year just to watch some of the acts, but this year part of my motivation to go was an extra credit project,” sophomore Stephanie Naing said in an e-mail interview. “[However,] the talent I saw at the festival reached far beyond my expectations. The poem recited by [junior] Mansour Elsharawy, a member of the [Muslim Students Association] really stood out to me. [It] was really well delivered and the words were extremely powerful and pertained to not just one culture or race.”
Additionally, student performers emphasized how the festival gave them a rare chance to share cultural traditions with a larger audience and to bond with fellow performers. “It was my first time performing at Stuyvesant, especially with 90 other students on stage with me. It was just heartwarming practicing our parts as a group. I love the team spirit I felt from it and it really paid off,” sophomore Amy Lei said.
Other recent cultural celebrations, including that of Dia de los Muertos and Chinese New Year, have received similar regard within the school. The language department hopes to continue this trend through holding this annual Festival of Cultures in conjunction with their other cultural celebrations. It hopes that these events will offer a needed platform with which to showcase student culture and talent.
Students also look forward to similar future performances. “It was an eye-opener for many people, including myself. I learned a lot about the characteristics of the cultures through their dancing, and the music as well. For example, this girl danced a traditional routine from Korea which was absolutely beautiful, unlike anything I have ever learned in dance,” sophomore Meredith Silfen said. “We should recognize the importance of a school like Stuyvesant that takes the time to embrace traditions and cultures.”