The 13th annual CultureFest, hosted by the MultiCultural Center (MCC), took place last Sunday at Mitchell Park. The free event, sponsored by MCC and different members of the community, aimed to promote cultural awareness and diversity to the city of San Luis Obispo as well as introduced members to different ethnic backgrounds.
Victor Kim of Quest Crew from MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” made an appearance and performed the closing act.
CultureFest Committee Chair James Rymel said the event is a great opportunity for people to see diversity.
“A lot of times student organizations don’t have the same outlet so they get really enthusiastic about CultureFest, which is kind of the one time a year where they can showcase their different backgrounds, their cultures and really have that opening and welcoming atmosphere,” Rymel said.
Clubs featured at the festival included the Pilipino Cultural Exchange (PCE), the Japanese Cultural Exchange (JCE), the Chinese Student Association and Movimiento Estudiantil Xicano de Aztlán (M.E.X.A.). CultureFest member and mechanical engineering junior Adam Eberwein said the event is about more than simply bringing different people together.
“(It’s about) experiencing what’s important to them as well as understanding what’s important to them,” Eberwein said.
Throughout the afternoon, students and community members got to witness just how diverse San Luis Obispo can be through food, booth design and performances. CultureFest also featured a contest to award the club with the best of those three categories.
Judges for the event contest included Cal Poly Interim President Robert Glidden; Sandi Sigurdson, the executive director of leadership for the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce; Everette Brooks, coordinator of Student Clubs & Organizations on-campus; and Denise Isom, ethnic studies associate professor who was in charge of judging the “Best Booth” competition.
Isom said the judges looked for creativity, enthusiasm, innovation and the club’s ability to follow its theme. But, she said, that’s not all they were looking for.
“There’s so many other factors involved, I think, (such as) how connected the students are to the issues that they’re presenting or to the culture that they’re trying to represent out here,” Isom said. “I love to watch for student interaction and interaction with the community more broadly and where there’s been evidence of thought deeper than ‘Here’s a good food to serve’ or ‘Here’s a good activity to put on.’”
As a way to publicize the event, the CultureFest committee advertised on the Wild 106.1 radio station, put postings on its official Facebook page and created a promotional video to get community members involved. Not only that, but special guest Kim helped boost publicity.
Members of the cultural clubs were excited and eager to see Kim, including electrical engineering senior and hip-hop dancer for the Chinese Student Association, Marc Perez.
“As a dancer and as a performer, we look up to him because he sets the stage and he sets the bar,” Perez said. “To have someone like him is a privilege, it’s something we all try to aim for.”
Rymel said members of CultureFest hope to continue promoting awareness throughout the community.
“Culture exists here because a lot of these students are passionate about who they are and where they’re from and just want to share it,” Rymel said.