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Cultures come together during 42nd WorldFest

By Priscilla Lombardi
On March 25, 2012

  • Member of the Polish Cultural Society stands for a pose during the 42nd WorldFest at the Student Union on Saturday. JON KULAKOFSKY/The Daily Campus


Cultures united through on-stage performances, unique costumes, colorful exhibits and ethnic food at UConn's 42nd Annual WorldFest in the Student Union ballroom on Saturday. 

"Different groups get involved every year," said event planner Laurie Tompkins. "There's always a new performance or a exhibit that really surprises me. They all just give it 100 percent."

WorldFest's purpose of breaking down stereotypes and enlightening the world on diverse cultures brought students, visitors and even a middle school class to the event. 

Before the performances began, the 19 cultural groups involved carried a lit-up torch on stage. UConn BAILE, the Nepali Student Association, the Polish Cultural Society, Mariya and the UConn Irish Club danced throughout the three-hour event.    

Before bracing the stage to perform the Nepali mountain dance, Muna Bhalbari, 8th-semester sociology major from the Napali Students Association wore a fariay cholol dress, as part of the country's national attire.  

"Nepal is a small country and nobody really knows about our culture or customs, which is why we perform in Asian Nite, World Fest and raise money for children in Nepal so they can go to school," said Bhalbari who moved here from Nepal six years ago.  "Even though we are a very small country we have the biggest hearts and we're very diverse. "

Amid the resonance of drum beats from the UConn Taiko Club, the chants performed by the Bangladeshi Student Association and Husky Hungama, and the rhythmic martial arts movements from the Capoeira Club, visitors were able to taste six exotic appetizers for $5.  

The buffet included pierogies, curry samosas, vegetable pot stickers, falafel, spanakopita and vegetable fried rice.

Students and visitors voted for the event's best performance, best attire and best exhibit in boxes placed outside the ballroom. 

"My favorite part is watching the performances," said Krisela Karaja 4th-semester English and Spanish double major from the Albanian Student Association. "It's a great chance to show off your culture and just get a taste of everything." 

UCAELI gave out free Japanese candy and offered to write names of visitors in Arabic, while the International Chinese Association sold authentic Chinese jewelry and the Rumi Club sold Turkish pastries. 

"The United States is diverse with a lot of cultures and Turkey is one of them," said 4th-semester economics major Ramis Unsur from the UConn Rumi Club. "Most importantly we try to show students that we can have peace between cultures." 

Edyta Hrynkiewicz 8th-semester pathobiology major from the Polish Cultural Society said her costume originated from a dance called Kujawiak in Lublin, Poland.  

"I want people at UConn to know there's more to Poland than people think of it," Hrynkiewicz said. "We really do have rich culture and history." 

Mariya Yukhymenko, 5th year education psychology student, performed a Ukrainian dance on stage. She said she has been rhythmic dancing since she was six years old. 

The spirit of WorldFest even reached beyond campus to the local community. A Norwich ESL tutor from Memorial Middle School brought her class to the event.  

 "We want to teach kids about different cultures and how to appreciate different people from around the world," said Lithia Lopez who also runs a diversity club at the school. "I'm glad that we were invited here. They learned so much. "

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