Pakistan is in the Middle East, a part of Asia. Its most commonly spoken language is English, not Arabic. The women in Pakistan are not required to hide their faces and serve as housekeepers in their family. There are more women in office in Pakistan than there are in the United States.
The Pakistan Student Association spoke before their fellow students on Thursday night at the Eighth Annual Journey Around the World: Multicultural Show and Food Tasting. This event clarified misconceptions frequently heard about Pakistan’s culture, but they were not the only group represented. Nineteen other organizations, sororities and clubs on campus joined together to celebrate the culture at Stony Brook and help the audience gain a better understanding about the diversity around them.
“The night is designed to strengthen and build Stony Brook, as well as tear down the walls that divide us,” Associate Dean for Multicultural Affairs Cheryl Chambers said. She assured that incidents such as the case of Trayvon Martin could be stopped if everyone had a better understanding of one another. The pending Martin case is controversal due to the supposed racial profiling of the shooting which caused Martin’s death.
Each performance, slideshow and video during the night represented a different journey around the globe. The Stony Brook Ballroom Dance Team opened the event with two numbers and took the audience on a journey through North America.
The Stony Brook Cadence Step Team brought the audience to the Caribbean. They wore all black, except for the different flags they each carried on their belts. Individual members of the group showed the way people step in their respective countries.
“Why don’t we all just step together?” one of the members asked as they all began a synchronized routine. They ended their performance in unity.
The audience then took a journey to Eurasia, where the Stony Brook Belly Dancing Team shook their hips to a Turkish song.
“It’s a tradition that we represent belly dancing in the multicultural show because people conceive it as a sexy thing,” the team’s vice president, senior English major Victoria Farenga, said. “It’s really a dance for women’s empowerment. We like to clarify that and show a dance that is different and from another part of the world.”
Farenga explained the culture behind her team’s performance. “Belly dancing is from Turkey,” she said. “This song is a very non-traditional belly dance song by a guy named Tarkan. He’s like the Elvis of Turkey.”
On the journey to West Africa, the Free the Children Stony Brook Chapter showed an alarming video that portrayed the extreme conditions in which children live around the world. The organization talked about projects, such as building a school in Sierra Leone, and encouraged new members to join the chapter.
The International Students Organization ended the evening with a fashion show portraying traditional outfits from countries such as India, Japan, Korea and more. The audience cheered loudly as each model strutted to the front of the room.
When the performances ended, the eating commenced. Cuisine from Pakistan, the Caribbean and many other countries from around the globe filled the plates and stomachs of both the performers and audience. Students left satisfied with the food and the show, but they also left with a better understanding about the cultures surrounding them on campus.
“Stony Brook has such diversity. This is a great way to make more people aware,” junior psychology major Karen Lee said.
Anielisa Jones, graduate assistant of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and organizer of the event, said, “We can’t escape diversity although people try to, and it’s not like you should. Especially coming out of college, you’re going to go into a diverse work environment. This will help people to become more tolerant and more understanding.”
Jones hoped that everybody who attended the event would walk away having learned or grown from the experience. “Everyone will take something different away from the event,” Jones said. “It’s just how they use it. I’m hoping that people realize from our experiences that multiculturalism, diversity and working together is something positive.”