With dazzling performances and delicious food, Stuyvesant’s second annual Culture Festival is a chance for students to celebrate ethnicities through a night of entertainment.
Held on Friday, November 21, the festival included an hour and 15 minute buffet-style food service in the cafeteria, where tables of food were set up and arranged by country of origin, and a talent show afterwards.
The lines for the food were enormous, but were organized well by the ARISTA members acting as the event’s food servers. Students wound through the cafeteria, scooping up food from different tables. Varieties of sushi rolls—California, eel, spicy tuna and more—dominated the Japanese table, but students were only allotted one piece each.
Sophomore Teresa Yan found that other tables satisfied her desire for a medley of food. “The Indian table had a lot of home cooked foods that I liked a lot. They gave me a good feel for the culture,” Yan said. The Indian table achieved their goal of presenting guests with a wide selection of Indian dishes, offering biryani rice, curried chicken, fried vegetables with mango sauce and bowls of orange sweet rice.
Some students prepared food for the festival, but the majority of the event’s buffet came from local restaurants. “The Chinese food came from China Red and Chapham in Chinatown,” senior and budget director of the festival Anamika Saha said. The Indian food came from Salaam Bombay, and the sushi was ordered from Haines Sushi.
The food was delicious, but the service had its share of problems. The food was served cold, and the organizers ran out of paper plates. Not that this deterred the students from the food, as they began eating out of plastic cups. When the food supply ran low, servers gave significantly smaller servings to stretch what remained of the buffet.
Once everyone had eaten their fill, the crowd left the cafeteria and milled towards the auditorium, where the show hosts, seniors Angi Guo and Niloy Iqbal, began the evening with playful jokes.
The performances kicked off with a traditional Indian dance. The dancers, clad in decorative saris, performed with grace and were received with mass applause. Later, martial artists displayed their talents, bounding onto the stage with kicks, jumps and loud yells. Other acts included hip-hop dance groups and a solo on the guzheng, a traditional Chinese harp.
Easily the most crowd-pleasing performance of the night, the South Asian Skit had students laughing and cheering throughout. While introducing the skit, performer Iqbal said, “Please don’t be offended. It [the skit] just gives us a chance to laugh at ourselves.” The hilarious skit consisted of a conversation between three couples: one American, one Indian and the other Bengali. It included many jokes between the different cultures that brought bursts of laughter from the audience. Although the actors were sometimes inaudible, sound technicalities did nothing to change the crowd’s enthusiasm.
The culture festival, more than anything else, is a chance for students to learn more about their culture, and introduce them to new ones. Senior Jennifer Yeon, a dancer in a Korean hip-hop group, said, “A few years ago, I kind of grew out of Korean culture. The culture fest has begun to get me interested in Korean pop-culture again.”
Yet some students think the cultures represented are too limited. “The name [of the festival] is misleading, since only Asian cultures are represented: China, Japan, India, Bangladesh and Korea. Some people might think that many different cultures are participating,” sophomore Raymond Tse said.
Although there were few cultures involved, the participants of the Culture Festival pulled off an entertaining and enjoyable evening, plastic cups and all.