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CCB culture fair sparks conversations

Fair’s intentionally chaotic atmosphere encourages exploration of ethnically diverse tables

Music from the around the world resounded Friday in Alumnae Hall, where dancers’ festive choreography mingled with aromas of international dishes at Class Coordinating Board’s culture fair, “Around the World in 180 Minutes.”

The fair featured free food and performances from student groups, such as the Hellenic Students’ Association and the South Asian Students’ Association, said Orlando Rodriguez ’17, president of the Class Coordinating Board of 2017.

“What would be better than to get together over the different cultures and ethnicities on campus?” Rodriguez asked.

The loose structure of the event was intentionally “chaotic” and designed to encourage people to roam freely and explore different tables, Rodriguez said. This helped create a social climate that Lily George ’18 said she enjoyed. The informality also provided the opportunity to sample different dishes.

Jon Ang ’16, cultural co-chair of the Filipino Alliance, said the members of the FA executive board believed the culture fair was a great opportunity to spread the word about their lesser-known organization, as many larger cultural groups — such as the Hong Kong Students’ Association and the Korean American Students’ Association — chose not to participate because they already plan many events throughout the semester.

“FA isn’t as big as some of the other cultural groups on campus. This was a good way for people to get to know us a little better,” Ang said, adding that members of the FA talked to many attendees about what their Filipino culture and background meant to them.

Ang attributed the lack of attendance of larger groups to the fact that they are already fairly established in the Brown community. “We aren’t making money off of it,” he said. “It’s a good amount of work, and (the only benefit) is really just getting yourself out there.”

But for many attendees, the draw was in the free culinary offerings, rather than the opportunity to gain cultural knowledge.

“People ... were really attracted to the free food,” said Brandon Le ’18, freshman representative for the Vietnamese Students’ Association, whose showcase included traditional Vietnamese spring rolls.

FA made two large trays’ worth of lumpia — egg rolls stuffed with pork, onions and carrots — which ran out within an hour and a half, Ang said.

This occurred at many of the event’s stations. “The culture fair was planned to last for three hours, but about an hour or an hour and a half in, all the cultural organizations pretty much ran out of food, and we all just pretty much packed up and left,” Le said.

As the food disappeared, attendees followed suit, and there were many fewer people watching the performances at the end of the event, Rodriguez said, adding that this “was probably foreseeable — people like food.”

In the future, CCB will look into shortening the event or establishing a ticketing system that restricts the amount of food people can take, Rodriguez said.

But overall, CCB was very happy with the event, and the organization looks forward to expanding it, he said.

“It’s a good experience for everyone just to be able to step out of (their) own boundaries and see what the world has to offer for them,” Le said.

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