Salsa, singing and samosas. What could be better? All of these and more were at the 2014 closing ceremony for International Month which was held Nov. 13 in the Carole Weinstein International Center Commons.
The International Club at Richmond aims to promote diversity by providing a common place for people to come together and discuss cultures. One way that it facilitates this is by holding International Month between Oct. 23 and Nov. 15 where the club throws a number of events including International Dance Night, the International Parade and the annual Closing Ceremony.
Among the numerous groups that performed at the event, the Ritmo Latino Club performed a variety of salsa dances, one in particular based on the idea of social injustice. The dancers acted out scenes of abuse and battery. Javanni McDonald, a member of the Ritmo Latino Club and Richmond College '18, said he believed music was a means of bringing awareness to these issues.
“As much as Ritmo is about having fun, it’s also dance, which is a good way to bring these issues that are plaguing the world to the forefront,” McDonald said.
Another dance club, Embody, performed a number of hip-hop dances. Tia McArtis, Westhampton College '17, said she found celebrating International month as a good way to get exposed to different cultures.
“During our daily lives we don’t get a good enough dose of international culture, so it’s nice to at least have one night to go out and enjoy it,” Mcartis said.
University of Richmond's African Dance Company, Ngoma, invited spectators to the stage to learn the different steps to a traditional African coming-of-age dance which, after many missteps and laughs, was performed together. Other performances during the event included the group Asian Echo, singing classical Japanese songs, also the group Bollywood Jhatkas, dancing Indian Bollywood and the group Block Crew, dancing hip-hop and various other individual performers.
After an intermission that featured Chinese fried rice, Indian samosas and other international delights, a fashion show was held with students walking in a variety of countries’ traditional garb. Azmain Taz, co-president of the International Club and WC '16, emphasized the importance of the fashion show.
“When people come from different countries they don’t have the opportunity to dress up as they used to ... and sometimes they also feel awkward wearing their dresses to classes. It’s just creates an opportunity for everyone to say, ‘This is my culture,’” Taz said.
There are currently 388 international students at Richmond representing almost 80 different counties and making up 12 percent of the undergraduate student population. With such a strong and diverse holding of the Richmond campus and an equally diverse population of U.S. students, Taz said she believed it was important to both recognize and celebrate different cultures.
“Having International Month we bring all of the cultural groups together … and have a celebration of cultures and diversity,” Taz said.
Contact reporter Helaine Ridilla at firstname.lastname@example.org