CultureFest showcases diversity

By Courtney Searcy

Union University brings students from across the globe together, and in a day one might cross paths with someone from Malaysia, Ethiopia or Mexico.

The second annual CultureFest, held March 11 at Union University, showcased the diversity among the 44 states and 30 countries represented within the student body. Students celebrated their cultural heritage from places near and far — Kentucky to Brazil, Minnesota to the Phillipines and Georgia to China.

“The main purpose of CultureFest is to bring different cultures together on campus and to show the great display of the different cultures we have represented here at Union,” said Kevin Ung, junior sports ministry major, who was involved in creating the event as well as planning it.

Peter Cha, associate professor of pastoral theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, kicked off the day with a chapel message titled “A Blessed Unity.” Students read Scriptures in their native tongues and worship was led in various languages as a part of the chapel service.

“That was a beautiful picture of what the gospel is, and of racial reconciliation, and promoting diversity,“ Ung said.

Cha also spoke at noon on the topic of “Experiencing Cultural Diversity: Five Approaches on College Campuses.”

Following chapel, students and others from the Jackson community packed the main hallway of the Student Union Building for the culture fair. Each place that was represented displayed a poster highlighting the unique aspects of that culture and offered visitors a taste of traditional food.

Esperanza Aguilar, junior nursing major who participated in CultureFest for the first time this year, treated visitors who stopped by her display to authentic tamales. As the only student from Mexico, she wanted to make sure her country was represented.

“I learned a lot about my culture and things I didn’t know,” Aguilar said. “It’s good for international students to do CultureFest, because although you are from your culture a lot of times you aren’t aware of things that are going on.”

Desirae Suggs, sophomore business major, represented the state of Georgia at her display. She served peach cobbler with a warm smile and shared little-known facts about her state.

“CultureFest is a great way to partake as one in the body of Christ,” Suggs said. “I enjoy seeing all the different people and all they have to offer. We are all so different but we still share similarities.”

The day concluded with “CultureFest Open Mic” in Barefoots Joe. Students lined the walls of the coffee shop to see fellow students perform cultural songs, and they even learned a few Salsa steps in between acts from classmates.

“CultureFest was an amazing opportunity to share my culture and learn about other people’s cultures,” said Mikias Seid, senior computer science major from Ethiopia. “You get to hear a lot of people’s stories and meet international people. It’s great. I love it.”

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.