Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
February 4, 2023

Culture Fest shows off student cultural organizations in near-freezing temperatures

By HELENA GIFFORD | December 6, 2022

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COURTESY OF HELENA GIFFORD

Though important in highlighting the diverse student body, the annual Culture Festival yielded low attendance numbers.

The annual Culture Festival, which took place on Keyser Quad, featured cultural performances, music and food on Dec. 2. The event was hosted by the Multicultural Leadership Council, with funding from the Inter-Asian Council (IAC) and the HOP. Each cultural student group present at the event had a booth where members talked about their culture and organization.

Upon signing in at the front table, festival attendees were given a “passport” sheet which laid out the names of all 26 cultural organizations at the event. Only by interacting with the booths and collecting all 26 stamps could you get something to eat from the main food table. 

This passport sheet is something that has been implemented in past Culture Festivals. I thought it was a great idea, as it served to encourage student engagement with the organizations present and prevent people from simply showing up for the free food. However, you had to start collecting stamps in the beginning of the event to be able to get food before it ran out.

I’m personally a very shy person, so going up to the different tables and interacting with the organizations there would normally be an intimidating prospect, especially since I knew very little about most of the cultures represented. However, the stamp system gave a sense of purpose and an excuse for me to go up to the booths and strike up a conversation. 

As I went around the booths, it was clear how passionate and proud the students were about showing off their culture. Their faces would light up as they discussed their activities and events, highlighting their respective cultures. 

Many of the booths had set up activities for students to do, either as a requirement for getting a stamp or to win a prize. For example, South Asian Students at Hopkins (SASH) had an activity where you could design a tote bag with stencils and markers if you followed them on Instagram. Another organization, the Bangladeshi American Student Association (BASA), taught people how to write their names in Bengali. The IAC also sold hot tea, gave out free tea samples and hosted a squishmallow raffle. They mixed me half of a cup of hot honey citron tea for free, which was delicious and kept my fingers nice and warm for a few minutes.

Several organizations held trivia games for prizes. For example, the Puerto Rican Student Association (PRSA) asked questions about Puerto Rico using Kahoot. The Black Student Union (BSU) used a spinner to select trivia questions from a list and gave students a choice of a music or movie question to answer.

Alongside the booths, performances were showcased by the Temps d’Afrique Dance Troupe, Lan Yun Blue Orchids, Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Incorporada, Korean Pop Motion, Students of Caribbean Ancestry, Ketzev and ¡Baila!

However, as I slowly made my way from table to table, I overheard many people grumbling about the cold weather and the low attendance numbers. After being outside for an hour and half, my fingers were so numb that I could no longer type notes into my phone. Several organizations packed up their booths early.

In an interview with The News-Letter, junior Cierra Gladden, vice president of Female Leaders of Color (FLOC), commented on the importance of highlighting cultural organizations at Hopkins.

“Cultural community at Hopkins is very multifaceted and diverse, and I feel like if you want better attention to what these cultural groups have to bring, we should host Culture Fest at an appropriate time, with adequate marketing and conditions that are inviting for people to come out,“ she said. “You know, preferably not in near-freezing weather and the beginning of December.”

Students at Hopkins are incredibly diverse. Culture Fest is a fantastic way to show off the cultural organizations that Hopkins has to offer. Unfortunately, this year’s Culture Fest wasn’t very well attended, likely because of the weather and planning. However, in future years, I highly suggest marking the date in your calendar and bundling up to take advantage of the annual festival. 


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