For the third year, World Culture Festival is giving students a platform to teach others about their culture. This year, however, the celebration of world heritage will last more than just a day.
HOPE Council president and junior psychology major Jasmine Niazi served on the World Culture Week executive board, overseeing performances for the event since planning began in September 2015.
In the past, World Culture Festival has been a solo event. The idea to have a weeklong celebration surrounding the festival surfaced two years ago, Niazi said, but was limited because of a lack of time and crew. With the formation of HOPE council, however, the plan was put into action to pursue something bigger.
“This year, with HOPE Council, we have the crew and the passion to really go for what HOPE stands for and that is getting their organizations involved in represented the races and cultures that are on Belmont’s campus.We want to give these orgs that are smaller but powerful, opportunities to get heard and for students to become aware of these cultures and some of there issues that they face in their lives and at Belmont being a minority and culturally diverse org,” Niazi said.
During the festival, students have the opportunity to showcase talents connected with their culture or cultures they’re interested in. Students participating do not necessarily have to be from the culture that he or she is representing in the festival, but must be knowledgeable of and have a love for the culture, Niazi said.
Over 100 students will be involved with the event through the whole week from executive board members to booth runners, Niazi said. Rumi Club, the Black Student Association, Chinese Cultural Club and Hispanic Student Association all participating as organizations, with support from other parts of the Nashville community as well.
“We have been pushing for many more people this year. Every convo we have in the fall and the beginning of the spring always gears students towards feeling comfortable to displaying their interests in cultures,” Niazi said.
Niazi– who is Pakistani and Cambodian– got involved with culture fest her freshman year after struggling to fit in because of her ethnicity, she said. World Culture Fest gave her the chance to represent her culture without the judgement she felt in her everyday life.
“This was my way to feel at home and doing something I have been doing since I was little – Bollywood dancing. I am not trained but watching Bollywood films growing up and dancing to the songs was apart of my culture and who I am now,” Niazi said.
Niazi also hopes that the World Culture Festival and World Culture Week will give students the opportunity to express their cultures or the cultures they love while also breaking down misconceptions and stereotypes.
“There is more than just being that Latino student or that Middle Eastern student in your class; this allows the chance for both minority students and the predominantly representative student population to learn things about one another,” Niazi said. “I just want others to have a dialogue about some of these things that do exist on campus and not be afraid to talk or ask questions.”
World Culture Week began Monday at 10 a.m. with HSA’s “We Are Not All Mexican” convocation, and will end Friday at 4:30 p.m. with the World Culture Festival. The full schedule is available below.
Feb 22, Hispanic Student Association convo– “We Are Not All Mexican” 10 a.m. HOPE Council dance session– Bhangra and Hip Hop with the 629 Dance Team 5-7 p.m. Feb 23, RUMI Club– Bollywood Movie Night at 5 p.m. Feb 24, HOPE Council– food trucks and henna 11-2 p.m. “Getting Real About Race” panel discussion 5-7 p.m. Feb. 25, HOPE Council Korea Movie Night 5pm Black Student Association– “Post Racial Era” convo, 7 p.m. Feb 26, World Culture Festival, 4:30-7 p.m.