While the coronavirus pandemic has prevented large, in-person gatherings from being held, the Intercultural Welcome Committee was able to cater to 362 attendees through a virtual version of the annual Multicultural Extravaganza.
The fifth iteration of the event, titled “Weaving Our Web: Multicultural Extravaganza,” was held on Aug. 30 and featured guest speaker Waikinya Clanton, senior adviser to the chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Clanton drew from her experience in politics to address the current political climate in the United States and advise incoming Binghamton University students on how to succeed in their own careers.
“As you navigate these waters as young people coming to a fresh new world that is diverse, that is complex and nuanced, I want you to think about process and purpose in that,” Clanton said. “How are you actually connected to the things that you’re weaving? What are you being called to do?”
Clanton continued to use the event’s theme as a metaphor, considering its place in her own path to success.
“I came up with three reasons why a spider weaves a web: The first is to get to its destination, the second is for survival and the third is for protection,” Clanton said. “And as you look at the work you’re doing, the foundation you’re building, are you considering why you are weaving your webs?”
David Hatami, Student Association (SA) vice president for multicultural affairs and a junior double-majoring in political science and business administration, explained the inspiration behind the event’s theme.
“We chose the theme ‘Weaving our Web’ to describe what we were trying to achieve with this event: to weave a stronger web of community engagement, unity and sharing despite the obstacles which we all face these days as a result of the pandemic,” Hatami wrote in an email.
Using her career as an example, Clanton said that being deliberate is how she achieved her own success.
“As senior adviser to the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and what that means to be a young black woman doing that work, it’s about process, the webs we’re weaving along the way that got me to this point,” she said.
Clanton finished her talk with a Q&A session, where attendees asked questions via a chat page on the host site Hopin, a virtual venue that provides attendees with events that include multiple “rooms” they can move in and out of. When asked what inspired her to go into politics, she said that seeing a black, female state senator in her district in Mississippi helped her realize she too could make a change in a similar way.
“We talk about all the national figures who make an impact, but when you see someone up close fighting for you in such a real way and you see yourself in their story … that’s when I knew I wanted to get into politics,” Clanton said.
“Weaving Our Web: Multicultural Extravaganza” featured three rooms on the Hopin site: “Reception,” which listed the event’s schedule, “Stage,” where the presentations were held and “Sessions,” where clubs tabled virtually at various intervals throughout the event.
Victoria Camacho, a junior majoring in biological sciences, organized the planning and execution for the event. Camacho says she explained to organization how to use Hopin, where to upload their performances and more about the event itself.
“I collected their performance videos, aided in creating the itinerary and answered any questions that the performers had,” Camacho wrote. “Overall, I managed all the performers and was the primary contact with them in order for all of them to successfully showcase themselves at the event.”
At the virtual tabling, prospective club members were able to engage with over 40 multicultural organizations, including the Philippine-American League (PAL), Asian Student Union (ASU) and BU Japanese Association (BUJA). They could enter a group’s chat room and engage with each e-board to ask questions about the club.
Tabling periods were interspersed with songs, dances, strolls and poems. Performers included Quimbamba Latin Dance Team, Uyai Nnua African Dance Ensemble and Omega Phi Beta Sorority, as well as many others. There were several sponsors of the event including the SA Programming Board, Multicultural Resource Center, Q Center and more.
Hatami regarded the event as a success.
“Ultimately, I am very proud of how the virtual extravaganza turned out,” Hatami said. “We had a great deal of community support both before and during the event, with students continuously cheering their fellow performers on virtually through the event chat.”
Hatami also noted how vital support within the multicultural community was toward holding the event.
“I think it is important to note that without the support of the cultural community, the virtual Multicultural Extravaganza would not have been possible,” Hatami said. “I’m deeply grateful for their support and contributions to the cause.”