By Christian Rosario / Editor-In-Chief
When it comes to cultural diversity, student clubs and organizations at Raritan Valley Community College never settle for the familiar. Following the school’s Diversity Statement, student events have made an effort to “rely on diversity to enrich the intellectual environment for students.” Continuing that tradition, RVCC’s Rotaract, with help from the Orgullo Latino Club and the Bio/Chem Club, will host their third annual Grand Cultural Fest on April 4 in RVCC's Grand Conference Center, embracing cultural diversity through a medieval knight reenactment, Latino cultural dance, harp performance and bug show.
Rotaract’s goal is to raise at least $1000 from the event to aid Operation Smile, a program that provides free surgeries to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities for children around the globe. Due to not being able to nurse or eat properly, a baby born with a cleft has twice the odds of dying before celebrating their first birthday. $240 is required for one surgery. “Students have the opportunity to contribute to an important cause that, for less than the cost of an Ipad, saves lives,” said Jack Yuan, President of Rotaract.
A buffet of ethnic food, such as Iranian, Pakistani, Taiwanese and Italian, will be available at the event, as well as frozen yogurt from Frozen Falls in Branchburg, NJ. The event will begin with an opening speech by Rotaract officers Darek Wojtowicz and Shannon Symonds, followed by a speech about Operation Smile by Jack Yuan and Taylor Maleski.
The Society for Creative Anachronism’s (SCA) medieval knight reenactment will be the first performance. The knights will enter a bear-pit tournament, where two fighters face off and the loser leaves. A fighter who delivers a killing blow, which is any attack to the head, torso or groin, will win the match and receive 2 points. The losing knight will receive one point for participating. A new fighter will then enter and the process starts over. The knight with the most points at the end of the tournament wins. After the fighting, the knights will teach the audience how to medieval ball room dance, and ask for volunteers to dance with them.
Every knight chooses a persona, stage name and armor and fights under a kingdom. RVCC student Andrew Sciscente will be performing under the stage name Hartman Phoscari di Ferrara, which is based on a location in Italy. He usually fights with a shield and sword. Hank Salivolcion will be performing under the stage name Tanaka, a Japanese Samurai with knighthood, who often fights with two swords.
SCA is a worldwide subculture, with 47,000 active members and 19 kingdoms. The group brings together its culturally diverse members at the Pennsic War, an event held in different parts of Pennsylvania each year.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery gallery_type="image_browser" theme_id="1" gallery_id="2" sort_by="order" image_browser_width="800" image_browser_title_enable="0" image_browser_description_enable="1" popup_width="800" popup_height="500" popup_effect="none" popup_interval="5" popup_enable_filmstrip="1" popup_filmstrip_height="70" popup_enable_ctrl_btn="1" popup_enable_fullscreen="1" popup_enable_comment="1" popup_enable_facebook="1" popup_enable_twitter="1" popup_enable_google="1" watermark_type="none" watermark_link="0"]
After the reenactment, three members from the Orgullo Latino Club will perform a dance that mixes trivial, a Mexican and American style developed in Texas using electronic beats, with Bachata, which originated in the Dominican republic and incorporates romantic lyrics with back and forth or sideways steps. The performers have been dancing their whole lives, which President Karina Palacios said “relieves stress and brings energy.”
After the dance, Larisa Kulick, an active Rotaract member, will play on a Celtic harp folk songs from around the world with melodies from England, Ireland, Scotland and America. “The harp is one of the oldest instruments in the world and has remained culturally relevant throughout history,” said Kulick. “I started playing the harp seriously in middle school and enjoy it because it has a beautiful sound and it is a unique instrument.”
Vincent Balducci’s bug show, where he will display a selection from his bug collection, will end the event. Currently, he has 15 different species of insects and arachnids that he cares for, ranging from hissing roaches to insects that imitate dead leaves and sticks. “One of everbody’s favorite is Rosey, a four inch Chilean rose hair tarantula,” said Balducci. “She has been with me for about two years, loves people and is very calm when handled. Even people who hate spiders end up finding a place in their heart for Rosey.”
When asked how his bug show fits with the multi-cultural theme, Balducci said “I want to show people that there is more to insects than just the classic bees, ants and monarch butterflies. Insects are greatly diverse and account for about 71% of invertebrate life, and invertebrates account for roughly 90% of life on Earth. When studying insects you will find something new and diverse each year. Scientists believe there are still millions of new insects out there that we have no idea exist. So in a sense, insects would be a good way to represent how diverse the animal world is and show that each nation is special, because they each have their own amazing kind of insects.”
Students may purchase tickets to the event from any Rotaract member or Professor Nikitovic. Rotaract be promoting the event in RVCC's Cafeteria on April 3.
This article was edited on April 2, 2014.