The Caribbean Student Association (CSA) seized the day with their “Carpe Diem” Carnival, where numerous attendees lined up outside the Mandela Room on Saturday afternoon.
As explained by the host for the night, CSA’s annual Carnival is “a celebration of the end of slavery” and a reminder of the endurance and strength of the people who fought for their freedom.
Ashley Marmolejos, activities coordinator for CSA and a junior majoring in nursing, elaborated on the foundation of CSA’s Carnival in the context of historical justice.
“Historically, Carnival in the Caribbean began as a celebration of the end of slavery and a celebration of the freedom of our people,” Marmolejos wrote. “Carnival was brought to this campus through CSA with the intention of not only educating other students about our culture but also [showcasing] the freedom we have to express ourselves through the dances, costumes and overall vibes of the event.”
CSA’s Carnival generally consists of a myriad of dances, as well as various colorful masquerade costumes and different types of music. From the models and dancers to the music, courtesy of DJ Mali, this year’s event was a hub of entertainment. The performers were met with great enthusiasm from the crowd.
LeiLani Moya, vice president of CSA and a senior majoring in economics, explained how CSA establishes each Carnival’s theme and what the Carnival means to her.
“Every Carnival theme is decided by the previous year’s interns,” Moya wrote. “This year’s theme, Carpe Diem, was not only special because of the message to seize the day and not take life for granted, but it also reminded me of being on E-Board last year and watching our interns come up with the theme. Helping them make their vision come to life is so rewarding and brings us closer as a CSA family.”
During the event, most dancers held flags from their countries, showing pride in their heritage during their performances. This often prompted calls of support and enthusiasm from the crowd as they recognized their flag being waved around on stage.
Community and cultural heritage are crucial aspects of CSA’s mission and their Carnival, as explained by Marmolejos.
“Carnival to me means having the ability to be proud of your culture no matter where you come from,” Marmolejos wrote. “It’s an opportunity for women to feel beautiful in the costumes and men to feel handsome, but the real point of Carnival is to follow tradition while also representing your country. CSA to me means acceptance.”
The dancing acts of the night consisted of both group and solo performances. Group performances were usually fast-paced dances that featured a variety of acrobatic tricks. Many of the dancers wore their flags throughout the night, either as part of their costumes or by waving them around as they danced. Solo acts were performed by dancers adorned in jewels and feathers to complement their colorful costumes.
Moya provided background about how CSA prepares for the Carnival, from logistics to performances, while acknowledging the crucial work of the organization’s activities coordinators.
“Carnival is CSA’s biggest fall event so preparation starts all the way in the beginning of the summer,” Moya wrote. “It may seem like a lot of work since it is the break, but it is honestly exciting and beneficial. We get all the tedious stuff out of the way in the summer, so we can focus on all the models and help them perfect their routines throughout the fall semester.”
Inez Williams, the president of CSA and a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, elaborated on her delight at the turnout for the event and expressed her gratitude to those who helped put the event together.
“Seeing Carnival unfold was a magical experience for me,” Williams said. “Carnival is always our biggest showcase, and there’s so much thought that goes into it.”
Williams went on to describe the collaboration that went into this year’s Carnival.
“My executive board, interns and our models have been working nonstop for the show, and I hope they know how proud of them I am,” Williams said. “The night was full of dancing and amazing music, and it couldn’t have been possible without the help of everyone involved.”
This year’s Carnival featured musical act Pan Evolution Steel Orchestra, a group hailing from Brooklyn, NY. The group traveled to Binghamton to perform a set of songs during the break.
When asked about why she participated in the event, Juliana Thompson, a third-year graduate student studying history, stated that she enjoys the aspect of cultural enrichment for herself and for others.
“My favorite part of the event was that I got to be a welcome girl,” Thompson said. “We all got to share Caribbean culture, and all the interesting and fun things about it with the rest of the school.”
Khudija Wajid, an attendee at the event and a junior majoring in biology, elaborated on her experience at the Carnival.
“I saw a portion of the event, and I was really blown away by the energy everyone had,” Wajid wrote. “I liked how colorful the costumes were, and how expressive the dancers were with their performances.”
CSA’s E-Board received great support and cheers from the crowd when the president explained all the hard work that they had put into the Carnival.
“We are forever grateful for everyone’s support, and I hope [everyone] enjoyed,” Williams said during the event. “Definitely stay tuned for next year.”