This December, Binghamton University’s winter fiesta was opened up to all cultural groups.
The “Global Fiesta,” a celebration of holidays around the world that was formerly known as the “Festival of Lights,” was held in the Mandela Room on Wednesday evening. In the past, the event only featured religious groups on campus. According to Nicole Sirju-Johnson, director of the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC), which hosted the event, the celebration was expanded this year due to requests from various student groups on campus.
This year’s event was held in honor of the victims of the typhoon that ravaged the Philippines, killing more than 10,000 people.
The night featured a moment of silence for those lost, along with the lighting of three candles that represented life, peace and prosperity.
“Regardless of why we celebrate our particular holidays or traditions, we are able to see our similarities through the light,” said Nayemai-Isis McIntosh Green, the vice president of multicultural affairs.
Students from different organizations gave presentations on winter holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.
The event also included presentations of a dance by the Ballroom Dance Association, a PowerPoint on the Korean New Year and an exhibition of Thai boxing by the Thai Cultural Awareness Club, during which the performer took down multiple attackers who charged her on stage.
The Philippine-American League performed tinikling, a dance based off a Filipino bird that grabs rice from between bamboo shoots. The dance involved two people hitting and sliding bamboo poles on the floor in a rhythm with two dancers who stepped and jumped over and in between the poles.
“Since it’s a global event, I wanted to share a little bit of Filipino culture,” said Michael Cariaso, one of the Filipino dancers and a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering.
Jordan Asulin, a junior majoring in sociology, said that he liked the effort made by the MRC to increase the event’s inclusivity.
“I think [the addition of cultural groups is] definitely a good change,” he said. “Having cultural things and not just religious things is very important.”
Asulin added that he was impressed with the quality of the performances.
“[They] were really cool,” he said. “Everybody seemed to put a lot of effort in. It was an awesome night.”
Other groups that didn’t perform were also at the event, tabling around the perimeter of the room. One of these groups was Pi Delta Psi, an Asian-American cultural fraternity.
“We want to promote our culture and other peoples’ cultures,” said Jeremy Poserio, a member of Pi Delta Psi and a senior double-majoring in biochemistry and integrative neuroscience.
After the performances were finished and the candles were lit, audience members were allowed to hit the food tables, catered by the MRC, which featured a selection of dishes from different cultures around the world.
Asulin said that, given the opportunity, he would definitely attend the event again.
“Free food, awesome entertainment — how could I say no?” he said.