Talent showcase to promote cultural awareness

Dara Sander

The Dunya Jeane Student Organization will present the “Explosion of Culture Talent Showcase” on Monday, April 13 at 7:15 p.m. in the Kiva. 

There will be poetry, singing, traditional dancing and fashion featuring traditional native clothing from around the world at the showcase. 

“It’s about something you haven’t experienced before and authenticity from the acts (performing)…it’s their culture so you’ll really feel the love they have for it,” said Cree Pippen, president of Dunya Jeane Student Organization. 

The junior fashion design and merchandising double major said this showcase is a way for the audience to see something they wouldn’t have experienced elsewhere.

The Dunya Jeane Student Organization promotes cultural awareness on campus. The organization started as a fashion clothing line in December 2012 with the founder, Danielle Flemister, who was an entrepreneurship major.

Through the years, the on-campus organization has separated itself from the business side and has been more about community, friendship building and getting to know people, Pippen said.

They have monthly events and meetings where they talk about a specific culture, so members can learn more about different cultures, which Pippen said it is a way to get rid of stereotypes. 

“It’s also about breaking the barriers between the different communities at Kent State because we noticed that there were a lot of communities, like Chinese students, just staying to themselves, and all these people just staying in their little bubble,” said Mariya Butt, event coordinator of Dunya Jeane Student Organization and senior fashion design major. “Which is fine, but (we’re) trying to get them to integrate more and get them involved.”

The organization discusses topics that people avoid talking about such as racial slurs, Butt said. 

The organization is a safe place for people to come and express their opinions. If there is anything they want to discuss or clarify, that they feel they can’t talk about things because they are taboo, they can.

The Dunya Jeane Student Organization members hope that the “Explosion of Culture Talent Showcase” will influence Kent State’s students for the better and help people step out of their comfort zones and understand each other’s different cultures.

“Some cultures might do something differently than your culture,” said Yetunde Babalola, vice president of Dunya Jeane Student Organization and freshman biology pre-med major. 

Babalola is an exchange student from Nigeria. She said she hopes that after the talent showcase, people will say, “Oh, now I understand why they do that, it’s a part of their culture.”

“When I came to Kent State, I noticed everyone had their own little clique, like cultural cliques,” Babalola said. “White people stick with white people, and black people have their own community. Every ethnicity has their own little clique.”

She said she feels everyone should learn about other peoples’ culture and see things from another point of view.

Pippen said she believes that even the smallest impact will be beneficial for the Kent State community.

“We know that we’re not going to change people forever and to say, ‘I’m going to hang out with people who don’t look like me,’ but we want the them to say, ‘That was a good experience, and I would want to do it again,’” Pippen said.

Next fall, the Dunya Jeane Student Organization plans on having monthly cultural dances, where people can learn traditional dances from cultures as different as Chinese and African. 

In addition, they will bring in speakers to break cultural stigmas and present a cultural pageant where organizations and individuals can showcase their talents and their love for their culture. 

Contact Dara Sander at [email protected]