By Meg Grzenia
It’s mealtime and gallo pinto is being served in that corner, pot stickers are across the terrace, and the Irish lamb stew is right across from the beef empanadas. Of course, this is no ordinary luncheon. These and other delicious, ethnic foods were served last Saturday at Monmouth College’s 17th Annual Cultural Festival. The Brazilian-themed event was sponsored by the Office of Intercultural Life and Public Affairs Committee and included displays from the college’s international students and SOFIA (Summer Opportunities for Intellectual Activity) project members, as well as performances from a Brazilian dance company.
The SOFIA students began the festival with a bang as they sported towering headdresses and flashed samba moves choreographed with the help of Professor Diana Ruggiero, Associate Professor of Modern Foreign Languages. One of the projects assigned to the SOFIA students was to handcraft the headdresses which are part of the traditional Brazilian wear when samba dancing. Senior Ashley Lutz was excited about the project. “We practiced the dance about a million times and we’re really happy that we could share it with people today,” said Lutz.
Edilson Lima, a professional Brazilian dancer who also contributed to the creation of the SOFIA choreography, followed the students’ performance in a dazzling display of his own. Lima, who specializes in various indigenous-based dances, has been an established dance teacher in Chicago for 12 years. After his performances, the audience, persuaded by Lima’s incredible energy, was led in dances originating in Rio de Janeiro and the Amazon. Ten countries, including Brazil, were represented at the festival: Canada, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Sweden and the Netherlands.
A great passion and wealth of information was shared by the intercultural students concerning their native countries, but they didn’t fail to mention how much they liked their new campus life, too. “My favorite class would have to be Introduction to Economics,” said senior Katie Murphy who hails from County Antrim, Ireland. “My professor definitely keeps the class entertaining.”
Monmouth College’s Director of Intercultural Life, Ruby Pentsil-Bukari, said that the turnout was noticeable compared to years past. “Many more students were engaged this year than in years before. Overall, [there was] great food and great participation from students, faculty, and community members. Thanks to Professor Ruggiero for her dance classes, the physical plant for setting up the equipment, and to God for great weather!”