Dexter Lawn was packed with musical performances, cultural dances and ethnic food booths at Cal Poly’s annual CultureFest this past Saturday.
The festival was sponsored by the MultiCultural Center (MCC) and the Dean of Students with the goal of celebrating and supporting cultural diversity campus-wide.
“I think culture is important because it shows the individuality behind every person and allows us to learn from each other’s differences, and grow together,” English senior Irina Magidova said.
Magidova is the Vice President of the Outgoing Global Internship Programme for AIESEC in San Luis Obispo, an international non-profit organization that provides college students with volunteer and internship opportunities abroad.
“What we try to do is let the world become closer and understand each other better through promoting cultural exchange,” Magidova said.
AIESEC’s booth adorned festival-goers with intricate henna designs as a sign of embracing cultural traditions.
At the festival, construction management junior Sandra Herrera helped make and sell tostadas and horchata alongside her Movimiento Estudiantil Xicano de Aztlan (MEXA) members.
Herrera was involved throughout the event, handling customer orders and passing out plates piled high with cheese, chicken and beans.
“We see it as a fundraiser and also to bring awareness of who we are just because not many people know what MEXA is,” Herrera said. “Also, many people think it’s just a Latino club, and many of the people in it are Latino, but we welcome everyone. We are a socially and politically active club.”
The Hmong Student Association (HSA) was among other student clubs who participated in CultureFest 2014.
“We would love to spread our culture and awareness of our identity here to the Cal Poly community,” Biology senior and HSA president Houa Xiong said, “and at the same time create a home-base community for Hmong students and any other students interested in building close-knit relationships with other students here as well.”
Xiong said the club now uses CultureFest as a way to spread Hmong culture throughout campus and the community.
“Usually, people don’t know what Hmong people are,” Xiong said. “They actually think that Hmong is Mongolian and that we came from Mongolia, but we aren’t. We don’t actually have a country — we’re kind of all over the place.”
Members of HSA outfitted their booth by hanging examples of traditional Hmong clothing and propping up posters further explaining Hmong culture.
“Culture is important because it defines,” Xiong said. “It’s your roots — where you originally came from — and gives you identity.”
All photos by Mustang News photographer Iliana Arroyos.