On March 30, the UNITI Cultural Center collaborated with students to celebrate the diversity in culture and talent at Stony Brook with the Multicultural Open Mic and Food Tasting event in the Student Activities Center Ballroom A.
“Because of the snowstorm in February, this program is in place of a campus-wide tradition, ‘Journey Around the World Multicultural Show and Food Tasting,’” Cheryl Chambers, the associate dean of Multicultural Affairs, said. “We conjoined elements to allow students to be part of an evening of cultural entertainment.”
Ten student performers entertained the audience with various acts including song, dance and spoken word poetry. At the end of the performances, the attendants voted for their choice of first, second and third place.
When the clock hit 8 p.m., Dean Chambers kicked off the show with a speech, then Aamen Arthur, a senior biomedical engineering major, performed spoken word poetry as the first act. The acts thereafter resonated with the audience, who snapped or cheered the performers on and off stage.
“I’m feeling great,” performer K’La Rivers, a sophomore sociology and anthropology major, said. “[Through spoken word poetry], I have the confidence to say what everyone wants to say so they feel heard and understood.”
Not only did the event gather students from all walks of life on campus, it also brought in admitted students who were still deciding whether to commit to the university. Admitted students from various high schools in New York City who were visiting the university for an overnight stay attended the event.
“Forty students are here to see what campus life is like and experience the diversity,” Dean Chambers said.
“This was an intense event,” Dylan Obas, a senior at Saint Edmund’s Preparatory High School in Brooklyn, and one of the admitted students who attended the event, said. “I enjoyed the different types of entertainment thrown at me. It gave me a different feel of students on campus.”
After the performances, Dean Chambers shifted the attention to the cultural cuisine prepared for dinner. Students got to enjoy food like jerk chicken, vegetable samosas and egg rolls. The evening continued with lighthearted conversation as more students, inspired by the previous performers, hopped on stage and gave solo performances.
“This event was helpful with the whole diversity initiative,” L’Oreal Ellington, a chaperone for the high school students, said. “It was great to bring the SBU community together for a night of culture, food and talents.”
The winners were announced when the evening came to a close. Eshani Goradia, a sophomore biology major, won first place with her cover of “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. Cary Lamb, a senior theatre arts major, tap danced his way into the audience’s hearts and won second place. Lastly, Charles Woodbine, a freshman and tentative English major, delivered an empowering spoken word about identity and won third place.
“I don’t usually participate at these activities,” Woodbine said. “I was pretty nervous, but I got on stage and clicked with everyone.”
The UNITI Cultural Center, which was previously located in the Student Union, is now in the Student Activities Center. The close proximity to student life makes it more accessible for future collaborations.
A previous version of this story stated Charles Woodbine as a senior. Woodbine is a freshman.