This past Saturday’s Carnavales de América celebration was the first international cultural event of the semester. And as such events are apt to be, it was a lot of fun.
The goal of Carnavales de América (“Carnivals of America” in English) was to showcase the great diversity of culture in America – that is, North America, South America, and the Caribbean.
“This was something that we came up with last year with the old International Student Association (ISA) board,” says event organizer and MSSA vice president Maria Ruiz-Mendez, referring to last year’s Americas Night. “We thought that it was needed to showcase the beauty of not just one country from America, but America as a whole.”
Those who attended both Americas Night 2015 and Carnavales de América 2016 noticed a change of format. Last year’s event experimented with a unique setup: performance took place on a centrally-located stage at the same time that other activities were taking place, food was served, and attendees mingled.
Sungman Kang, the president of ISA, the organization that hosted Carnavales de América along with the Kearney International Center, has no preference between this year’s event and last year’s event.
Though Carnavales de América was more similar to a typical signature cultural night, it did try a few novel features. Prior to the main event in the CSU Ballroom, the CSU Hearth Lounge was set up with games and prizes and students gave PowerPoint presentations on various countries of the Americas.
At 6 p.m., food was served and there was plenty to go around. The menu featured jerk chicken, rice, beans, vegetables, lemonade, horchata (a sweet Mexican drink), and brigadeiro (a scrumptious Brazilian candy). One criticism (though, logistically, a wise move) could be that attendees were asked to take only one brigadeiro each time they went up to grab food, which seemed akin to having a bag of Doritos open and requesting that only one be taken per turn.
After the food lines died down, a game of trivia began onstage – another unique aspect of Carnavales de América. Each round featured five contestants from the audience who were challenged to answer (oftentimes very obscure) multiple choice questions. Who knew that the official language of Bonaire is Dutch? Who knew that Eva Peron was from the Los Toldos, Argentina? Who knew that Ecuador uses the U.S. Dollar as its currency? Each round’s winner was rewarded with their very own sombrero.
Starting around 7 p.m., the performances began. Musical duo Nick Richards and Prottoy played a number of songs on guitar, Prashant Karki of Nepal performed an original rap, Ryusei Abe of Japan performed a dance, and a traditional Mayan story was recounted with members of the audience acting out the scenes on-stage.
“There’s a bunch of things that have to be done for a night like this. Cleanup, setup, decoration, organizing, gathering together the performers…” says event emcee and MSSA president Faical Rayani. “The performers are just MSU students so you have to find people that are good and willing to perform.”
ISA president Kang notes that time constraint was a significant issue while planning the event. As it was the first signature cultural event of the year, it gave organizers only a month or so to prepare. Kang considers the event a success, despite the fact that attendance was lower than expected.
There’s a great lineup of signature cultural nights yet to take place this semester. Latino Night La Gran Pachanga will take place next Friday. ISA’s Asian Night will take place on November 5th and World’s Got Talent: Season Two is set for Nov. 15.
Those interested in entering the World’s Got Talent competition may register at https://orgsync.com/77040/forms/221557.