CSUN’s USU hosts Carnaval to celebrate cultural diversity

Kristopher A. Fortin

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Live music, dance and colors at the multicultural event where students could learn about other countries, listen to a diversity of music while learning about Africa, Europe, Asia, South America and the USA. Photo Credit: Virginia Bulacio / Staff Photographer

The index-finger sized line below the other symbols started the name Roza, the mother of CSUN student Jose Garcia. A red dot was placed above the symbol in Persian Calligraphy that spelled out Garcia’s mother symbolized warmth.

“It was something I’ve never seen done in real life,” Garcia said.

The 14th annual Carnaval at CSUN’s Plaza del Sol yesterday exposed students to foreign flavors, languages, music, and art.

Whether it was the Carnaval balloon banner that hung over the west entrance or the multi colored streams draped over the mixed performance and eating area, each detail was meant to show a multicultural celebration, said Amari Canada, 24, the USU events assistant that organized the event.

When students were done with either their Italian, African, or Chinese entrees, Korean, Belgian, Japanese and Taiwanese candies and Mexican cookies were available for desert.

“I did research and had to become familiar with all the dishes,” said Canada, when explaining how she chose the food menu.

The event started slowly, with the entire stage area completely empty. Belly dancer Shaunti Fera stepped off the performance stage to dance for the students waiting in the food line nearby.

Yet around noon the event came alive when students started to receive their multicultural food.

Students could also learn 11 different languages from volunteers. Hsin-Chia (pronounced Shin Chá) Chen, a graduate student in recreation tourism management, was teaching Mandarin Chinese.

Knowing more than one language is beneficial, Chen said, because she is able to connect with people more intimately.

She added she is able to express herself more clearly when she speaks Mandarin. “I’m funnier in Mandarin,” Chen said.

In her own life, Chen has adjusted her identity by telling people to call her Julie because of the difficulty to say her Chinese name. Yet she prefers her first name because it connects her with her family.

The second day of Carnaval will feature a three-time sumo-wrestling champion and grammy-nominated Japanese Taiko drummers.

A craft booth let students design their own maracas, Japanese fans, and mardi gras mask. In the hand wax booth, which had one of the longest lines of students, the deaf community was also represented.

Students were encouraged to make a sign with their hand to represent a concept in sign language, Canada said.

The Japanese community was represented in food and language, but the reality of the Japanese earthquake and nuclear disaster was blended into the event. Some language teaching volunteers aided students in making origami cranes, a common symbol in Japanese culture. The USU’s goal is to make 1000 cranes and partner with a organization to send to japan.

According to Japanese lore, when 1000 cranes are made a wish can come true, Canada said. An organization has not been agreed upon to receive the origami cranes yet, Canada said.

Yet the longest line at Carnaval was for the food.

The plates of food students had were piled to near ambiguity, but from diversity.

Cristal Aguilar, freshman, couldn’t identify exactly the cultural style all the food items came from. After closer examination, Mexican rice was mixed with African-styled rice, and empanadas rubbed against teriyaki chicken skewers.

When Bianca Sevilla started to gather her multicultural sweets, she couldn’t hold back her curiosity. “What are those?” she asked, pointing at strawberry puffs.

“That’s what I love, I haven’t tried these,” Sevilla said.

Carnaval will continue today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Plaza del Sol.