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Saint Mary’s celebrates different cultures with ‘Arts Around the World’ talent show

On Thursday night, Saint Mary’s students and community members gathered in Haggar College Center for ‘Arts Around the World’, a talent show highlighting different cultures. The show was part of the week-long celebration for International Education Week. 

Spectators saw dancing, poetry, singing, folk tales and pieces of history from cultures across the globe. Most presenters were students of Saint Mary’s modern language classes, especially Spanish, French, Arabic and Mandarin. 

One such presenter was Mishelle Yepez who presented an original poem in both Spanish and English about being a Latinx in the United States.

“Social media creates such beauty standards for us. You have to fit into all these white standards” Yepez said.

She also talked about feeling the need to represent especially as a first-year student and first generation college student in a prominently white institution.

The show ended with a drum performance from professor Charles Lawrence of the Modern Languages department, who has 50+ years of percussion experience. Before he began, he asked the audience to think about the beats he would be playing and how they relate to other songs heard throughout the night. The similarities seen show that all cultures are connected, especially through music. 

Assistant professor in the Modern Languages department Marelys Valencia was key in organizing the event. Having just revived the event last year, Valencia jokingly referred to last year’s show as “the first episode of the second season, and now this year is the second episode.” 

However, Valencia also voiced a bit of disappointment at the turnout and her desire for a broader scope of both talents and represented cultures.

“I would like to see more cultural manifestations, artistic expressions.” She hopes to have more instruments and group performances in the future. 

Valencia also wants to get more involvement from the tri-campus community.

“We are trying to attract more students, not only from Saint Mary’s,” she said. “I mean, there are three campuses that can all be involved.”

This is related to the desire to get more diversity in the talents and languages seen.

“We want all the talents that are out there, and that represent different cultures and languages,” she said. Valencia also wants to see more faculty from other regions involved to better represent the amount of different world cultures. 

But the performers and audience didn’t seem as disappointed.

“I loved seeing all the dances and hearing the poems and songs. It was very interesting to learn about music I wasn’t familiar with,” sophomore Ruby Meza said, who presented a Chilean movie from her Spanish Conversation class.

Yepez echoes those thoughts.

“It was a good way to encapsulate intercultural education, especially different cultures I didn’t even know about,” she said. 

Valencia says that the talent show is hosted by the Modern Language department every November during International Education. While many of this year’s participants were from College language classes, it’s not a requirement.

“We want to make visible this international presence and anyone who wants to be involved can just email me,” she said. “If you have any talent, maybe you can present a piece from Italy or China or any country.”

The eventual dream in Valencia’s eyes is to have International representation more than once a year.

“I think that it should go beyond International Education Week, she said. “Maybe we will do some sort of festival in the spring.”

Contact Katelyn Waldschmidt at kwaldschmidt01@saintmarys.edu

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Tri-Campus Thursday: Black Images talent show to showcase Black arts and culture

The Black Cultural Arts Council (BCAC) will put on Black Images, a talent show, Friday at 6:30 p.m. in Washington Hall. 

Senior Zoë Bonnichsen is the vice president of BCAC. She said the event will feature a wide range of talent.

“We have spoken word poetry performances, a rap and bass performance, several dance performances from step dance troupes to tap dance troupes,” Bonnichsen said. “We also have several singing performances from bands to gospel choir groups.”

BCAC is an on-campus cultural organization with the goal of responding to the needs of the Black community by sponsoring, promoting and supporting intellectual, spiritual, social and arts and community service programs. The council seeks to create a space that advances the values and customs within the Black diaspora.

The group also hosts events like Paint and Sip, where students can make art together, a fashion show that celebrates the impact of Black culture on design and the Black Diamond Ball, a formal for members of the organization.

Chinaza Udekwe is a senior and the emcee of the event. Udekwe, who started writing poetry in high school, will also be performing some of his own works at the show.

“I’m excited to hear the other poets,” Udekwe said. “It’s always good to gain some inspiration from other people and see different people’s perspectives.”

Sophomore Frances Ubogu, an international student from Nigeria, is the coordinator and stage manager for Black Images. She recalled how she first got involved with BCAC.

“When I was a freshman, I went to Black Images because my friend Vongai had invited me to come watch Dance Africa at the show,” Ubogu said. “And I thought it was really cool.”

This encouraged Ubogu to become involved with planning this year’s event, finding talent for the show’s 11 acts and organizing logistics for rehearsal equipment. 

Ubogu said that the audience will vote to choose the winners of the talent show.

“There will be a QR code attached to the back of the program. Audience members can scan it and pick their top-three favorite acts,” she said. “The first-place winner gets $100 and a certificate, second-place winner gets $60 and a certificate and third-place winner gets $40 and a certificate.”

Ubogu hopes Black Images will give students an opportunity to showcase their talents.

“I hope that freshmen and people who aren’t yet involved feel like, ‘That’s something I can definitely do,’” Ubogu said. “Just like for me last year.”

“We have an incredibly rich, culturally diverse campus and we really want to make sure that we’re highlighting what the arts look like,” Bonnischen said. “Not just for the Black community, but really just for the community as a whole.”

Bonnichsen also hopes that Black Images will be a fun way for students to engage with different cultures and art forms.

“It can get people out of their comfort zones to perform,” she said. “And I think it can also bring … the wider Notre Dame community to really engage with these incredible, talented people and their works of art.”

Students can purchase tickets for the show with card or cash at the box office in LaFortune Student Center for $5 or at the door before the show at Washington Hall for $7.

Contact Angela Matthew at amathew3@nd.edu.