In a pageant competition for this year’s title of Caribbean Queen, students gathered to express the “Rhythm of Life” at the 33rd annual Caribbean Student Association (CSA) Culture Night.
The theme of this year’s Culture Night was “Rhythm of Life,” featuring Caribbean-influenced food and performances by the Hoop Troop, Chanbara performance group and the Ballroom Dance Association as well as a Caribbean Queen competition. The Sunday pageant included four students representing the Caribbean nations of Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico and Guyana.
The judge panel included Milton Chester, assistant dean of students; Valerie Hampton, chief diversity officer; Rigoberto Andino, a professor from the Latin American and Caribbean area studies department; Craig Broccoli, assistant director of admissions; and Nikita Felix, last year’s Caribbean Queen. Contestants were judged based on their performances, which included a monologue, talent, dance routine and interview.
Lachoy Harris, a sophomore majoring in political science, competed as Miss Jamaica and won the title of Caribbean Queen.
Harris performed a song by Jason Mraz and spoke about national unity in Jamaica.
According to Hampton, the factors that judges considered included poise, content of the participants’ answers, ability to convey thoughts and ideas and clarity of presentation and talent.
“It was evident from the performances that the ladies put in creativity, time and discipline into their presentations,” Hampton said. “The judging was very close as each contestant did an excellent job of conveying information about their respective islands’ history, cultural mores and music. The event was definitely a success, as any opportunity to learn about another country’s history and cultural broadens knowledge and acceptance.”
Alicia Johnson, the president of the CSA, said she thought that Harris embodied all of these qualities.
“The judges were pleased with every contestant,” said Johnson, a senior triple-majoring in philosophy, politics and law, Latin American and Caribbean area studies and sociology. “Miss Jamaica set herself apart because she was the most insightful and captivating.”
According to Dajion Grant, the vice president of the CSA and a senior majoring in chemistry, Culture Night is the CSA’s biggest event of the spring semester. Grant emphasized the educational aspect of the event and said she hoped to spread awareness of the Caribbean rhythm of life.
“Music is a big part of the Caribbean. A lot of times when you say, ‘Oh, I’m from the Caribbean,’ they automatically think about the certain kinds of music, the party scene, dancing, everything like that. So we just wanted to educate more about it,” Grant said.
Though the event drew a crowd of 150 attendees, Johnson said she would have liked to see a larger audience.
“If there was anything we could have done differently, I wish we could have promoted more to have a better turnout of new faces,” Johnson said.
Johnson said she hopes that events like Culture Night will encourage more students to explore other cultures on campus.
“I feel that diversity on campus could drastically improve,” Johnson said. “Everyone talks about diversity, but not a lot of people are willing to support events that they wouldn’t normally go to and learn something new.”
Despite the smaller crowd, the 33rd CSA Culture Night raised approximately $500 for a philanthropy program in the island of Grenada.
“This is our annual banquet, but it’s more of an educational pageant,” Johnson said. “The main goal is to spread awareness of political issues in the Caribbean and what’s going on there.”
Irina Frampolsky, a sophomore majoring in psychology, also said that it is important to recognize diversity at BU.
“It’s important to showcase the talents from different countries and to show their presence and culture on campus,” Frampolsky said. “We are a pretty diverse campus, and it’s times like these that show everyone that.”
Amber Vargas, an undeclared freshman, said that the cultures represented spoke to the wider diversity on campus.
“Only four cultures are being acknowledged, yet there are so many people from different backgrounds here,” Vargas said. “It’s important because it’s bringing people together and making them aware of other people’s cultures.”