• October 31, 2014

Iowa State Daily

Dankbar: Cultural nights provide unique learning opportunity

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Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 8:04 pm, Mon Mar 25, 2013.

Cultural nights are put on by a variety of multicultural student organizations such as Latino Heritage Committee, Indian Students Association, and Russian Speaking Students Association — that just names a few organizations. These events offer a great opportunity for the international students at Iowa State to educate others about their culture and give the community the opportunity to learn and try something different.

Kanchana Hettiarachchi, president of the International Student Council, shares her support for the groups who put on these events, “With over 100 countries represented at ISU, this campus is about as diverse as it gets. I think cultural nights are a fantastic way for the Iowa State and Ames communities to get to know more about different cultures of the world. It is a chance for these student groups to get together with friends and family and showcase their culture with pride. Most of these student groups don’t have many members or formidable financial backing, so these events truly are the products of countless days and nights of sweat and muscle. It is a chance for them to display their many talents and act as ambassadors of the motherlands they love. For the guests, with breathtaking dances, fantastic music and mouth-watering food, these nights are truly a chance to explore the world in their own backyard.”

Last weekend Russian Speaking Students Association held the first annual Russian Cultural Night. It was an event anybody could attend. There was traditional and modern Russian music, food, fashion and entertainment.

Anna Prisacari, president of Russian Speaking Students Association, said they never predicted the event would be a sell-out, but that was the biggest reward for all of their hard work saying, “Not everyone has had a chance to visit Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan or Moldova so we offered our guests to experience our culture within Ames, Iowa.”

I do not know anything about Russian culture. To be honest, I didn’t even know there were many people who identify with Russian culture in the Ames area. It turns out Russian Speaking Students Association has about 250 members. I have friends who study Russian at Iowa State, so I went with them and had them teach me about the language and culture. I learned a lot and we had a great time.

The students in the association used family recipes, so the guests were able to try different types of food from the different countries that students are from. They had music playing the whole time, and some of the students put together a band to put on a live performance. There was also a fashion show of traditional Russian clothing, a photo contest and the Bollywood Dance Club performed.

Last semester I went to International Bazaar during International Week. There were different types of tea from a lot of different countries. I went with friends after class that afternoon. It was a really laid-back event. We went around the room and tried all the teas and talked to people from different clubs. It was very well organized and a cool thing to have midweek.

To have so many different cultural nights in one town is one of the many great things about college. I encourage you to grab a friend and go to a few of these events. One such event is Desi Night by the Indian Students Association at 8 p.m. April 12, 2013, in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union. Try something new. You’ll never know what you’ll find.

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Hannah Dankbar is a senior in political science and Spanish from Johnston, Iowa.

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