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A cultural collaboration

The Multicultural Fair showcases Syracuse University's diverse student groups through music, food and presentations.

Those in attendance at Thursday’s Multicultural Fair got a taste of the many different cultures on campus — literally and figuratively.

The platters of cuisine ranged from various rice dishes, pastas and curries, sampling the various cultures represented at the Maxwell School.  But they were only appetizers to the main course.  The fair also featured performances from the Black Reign’s step team, Wassa’s PanAfrika dance ensemble and the Maxwell Star competition.

"It's an important time for us because we have about 60 percent international students here.”
- Chiara Cruciano

The Multicultural Fair, hosted by the International Relations Student Association, was held to celebrate “Cultures in Collaboration.”

“It is actually a tradition in the international relations program,” said Chiara Cruciano, a Maxwell graduate student and one of the event’s organizers. “This event is something they put on every year. They change it up a bit, but it’s basically been a time for our department to showcase all the diversity and multiculturalism we have here.”

Aside from the food and dances, more than 20 campus and community organizations, including the American Red Cross, Public Diplomats for Human Rights and the Haitian American Student Association, set up booths at the fair in order to explain their roles on campus.

“It’s an important time for us because we have about 60 percent international students here,” Cruciano said. “So it’s really good time to really show all the diversity we have.”

The day’s events began with a panel discussion, titled, “Translating Peace: Multicultural Responses to Conflict and Disaster.” The keynote speaker was Dr. Vamik Djemal Volkan, an internationally known political psychologist who has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Other speakers on the seven-person panel included Maureen Sieh, a former editor at the Post-Standard and David Mwambari, co-founder of Sanejo.

After the discussion, the Multicultural Expo was held in the Maxwell School Commons, where the Wassa Pan Afrika dance ensemble began the show in loud fashion. More than 20 dancers captivated the audience with the electrifying dance moves and innovative rhythms.

Between the breaks in the live cultural dances, the Maxwell Star competition was held, which is a competition parody of American Idol for Maxwell students, Cruciano said. The diverse group of acts included a rendition of Ne-Yo’s “So Sick,” and Brooks and Dunn’s “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.

Richard Lim, a public administration master’s student in Maxwell, or better known as “Rated R,” break danced during the competition that received three encores.

Cathiana Vital, a senior accounting and marketing major, said she attended the event to support the other cultural organizations, while trying to break the barriers between the different cultural groups.

“I was excited to attend because we don’t really get a chance to get out of our cultural comfort zone, so it was a nice change,” Vital said. “My favorite thing was the food because I’m not very experimental, but I knew this would be my chance to try new things.”

After the expo, the multicultural events concluded with an international fashion show titled, “Walk for a Cause,” which was a fundraiser to benefit the American Red Cross’s International Relief and Development Fund for Haiti.

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