As Shakespeare put it, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.” In my case, greatness or, more so, responsibility, was definitely thrust upon me. As a member of the Honors Program, I signed up for a committee for an Honors event on campus. The options ranged from Arcadia’s Next Great Baker to “The Rocky Horror Show” to a Celebrating Cultures event. They all seemed like exciting options, but with the encouragement of a friend, I chose Celebrating Cultures. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
After our first meeting, the coordinator texted me.
“Can you do me a favor and co-coordinate the Celebrating Cultures event?”
Without even thinking, I replied, “Of course!”
As I stared at the text for a few seconds, my response hit me… like a train.
Oh, yeah, I’m a First-Year. I’ve never even been to this event before. I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. WHY DID I SAY YES?
But, luckily, my responsibilities did not turn out to be anxiety-worthy. Attend the Honors Council weekly meetings to deliver updates of our progress. Send emails. Hang flyers. Encourage people to sign up. That, I could do.
If you don’t know about Celebrating Cultures, it’s an event that celebrates cultural diversity where anyone can sign up to put together a table, strut down the runway in the fashion show, or perform a song or dance about their culture. Since Arcadia is so renowned for its international programs and diverse mix, there’s usually a great turn-out.
Plus free food!
Most of us think of culture as ethnicity, music, food, traditions, heritage and art. But as I learned through this experience, the answer can also be cats, feminism, the 1940s, the Beatles, even environment conservation.
By the time the event rolled around in early November, I was excited to see how the hard work paid off and what the tables would look like.
As I walked into the Great Room, I couldn’t help but smile. It was packed with people and tables. The smell of food filled the room and mixed with the music and voices. There were tostadas from Mexico, cake from Lithuania, peri-peri chicken and ginger beer from South Africa, henna tattoos from India, female superhero posters from the For the Women’s Club, and much more.
People laughed and tried tasty food as they mingled and learned about different cultures. As it neared the time for performances, everyone took their seats. We watched the American Sign Language Club perform “Stitches,” by Shawn Mendes, we smiled as a young boy sang “Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star” with his mom, and hearts melted as an Asian couple sang a duet to each other.
By the end of the night, I had met new people, tried all kinds of new cuisine, and even got tattooed (with henna, of course). Arcadia offers so many opportunities to its students, it’s just a matter of taking advantage of them.
Photo by Maya Walker ’19, Arcadia University