Virginia Commonwealth University

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VCU Festival Brings Cultures Together

April 9, 2011

Kayla Wamsley
Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Monroe Park became a cultural melting pot Saturday as dancers, ethnic food vendors and musicians shared aspects of their culture with thousands of people attending Virginia Commonwealth University’s 2011 Intercultural Festival.

Musical performers at the event included Richmond’s No BS! Brass Band, VCU’s a cappella group the Notochords and local R&B artist Christian McGee.

The cultural performers ranged from the Korean Unity Gathering and Asparas Dance Group to the Wing Chun King Fu Group and the Bangladeshi Student Union. The groups displayed their talents on two stages in Monroe Park on VCU’s main campus.

The festival featured henna and airbrush tattoo artists, moon bounces and local food vendors including Cous Cous, Nile and India K’Raja restaurants. Attendees also enjoyed a petting zoo with sheep, goats and a potbelly pig.

“VCU is one of the most diversified campuses that you will ever walk upon, so it is very important to do things like this to show that we are inclusive,” said Charlie Brown, a vendor who has worked at previous festivals.

In recent weeks, VCU has received national attention as its men’s basketball team won a spot in the NCAA Final Four competition. The Intercultural Festival, on a smaller scale, helps build on that success.

“Now that we are definitely on the map, I think it’s so important that this kind of event needs to happen every year,” Brown said.

Performers echoed those thoughts.

Christina Kim, who teaches the dancers of the Korean Unity Gathering every year for the festival, emphasized the importance of diversity.

“The campus itself is so diverse, and there are many cultures, a lot of diversity. And just to let everyone else know and be aware, I think, is a good opportunity for us,” Kim said. “We have culture shows on the side, but something like this that the school sponsors is a great event, and everyone can see it at one location at the same time.”

Ankita Mathur, a VCU student and member of the competitive Bollywood and Hindi film dance group Jhoom, said that bringing different cultures together in a single environment is important.

“I think we have such great cultural diversity we really need to publicize it,” Mathur said. “Different cultures show the best part of each culture, and it truly makes us diverse.”

Jewelle Marcelino, a founder of VCU Filipino Americans Coming Together, said people should become more aware of different cultures.

“This festival gives great spirit and meaning about history, ethnic food, the way someone celebrates,” Marcelino said. “It gives people a chance to experience something new that they never have before.”

VCU has held its Intercultural Festival for more than 10 years.

“It is important that VCU shares in embracing and respecting the various cultures on our campus,” Marcelino said. “It spreads cultural awareness, respect and love amongst VCU students, faculty and community.”