Students experience tastes and sounds of different cultures

Julie McKinney

Robin Wright, freshman secondary math education and Pan-African studies major, dances with Youngstown State University student Luis Esparra during last night’s Festival of Nations dinner in the Student Center. Along with an eight course meal, students wer

Credit: DKS Editors

Kent Interhall Council members traveled around the world in two hours last night. Maybe they didn’t leave Room 306 of the Kent State Student Center, but the diverse dishes and cultural performances took more than 100 guests far out of Ohio.

Kent State Dining Services prepared and presented the eight-course meal at last night’s Festival of Nations. Spicy Spanish tamales and stuffed grape leaves from Greece were just part of the interesting cuisine that students sampled.

The event started with Kent alumnus Olu Manns and his West African percussion demonstration.

“Besides food, music is one of the most identifying parts of a culture,” Manns told students as they sampled African bongo soup. Manns described the African history behind percussion and the role it plays in his life.

“There’s no way you can leave this without learning,” he said. “It’s very important to be retaining information.”

As freshman sports administration major Zahra Scullion and sophomore conservation major Sarah Lomske played the drums alongside Manns, he said, “Hit it like it stole something from you!”

Manns got the crowd involved in his demonstration.

“Everyone else – the only drum is your hands,” Manns instructed.

The energy in the room increased as all guests put their hands together while Manns’ hands bounced at lightning speed off his drum.

Manns concluded his portion of the evening by having the crowd repeat after him as he said, “Peace. Love. Respect – for everyone.”

As the appetizer courses were placed in front of students, Veronica Esparra, sophomore early childhood education major, salsa danced around the room with her brother Luis Esparra, a Youngstown State sophomore.

The couple performed three dances.

“It’s a good work out,” Veronica Esparra said about the merengue dance. “If you do it for six minutes, you’ll feel it the next day.”

Esparra said salsa got its name because it is a spicy and flirtatious dance. The Esparras didn’t have any trouble recruiting students to come to the front of the room to learn the dances.

When the main dishes of ground chicken with Japanese eggplant and Indian curry were served, the Kent State Karate Club took the spotlight.

The club described the history of martial arts, weapons and different fighting styles.

“I want you guys to realize that everyone here, from the club, has learned a different style,” sophomore finance major Ran Ding said.

“Tonight we have demonstrated all different styles we have. It’s a demonstration of diversity,” he said.

Kent State staff scientist Bentley Wall closed the evening with a bagpipe performance while guests ate vanilla caramel flan from Brazil and cranachan, a dessert from Scotland.

John Machingo, senior exercise science major and vice president of KIC, was in charge of the event.

“We represent so many types of students on campus,” Machingo said.

While talking about all the different types of performers he said, “All this diversity comes from right here on campus.”

Contact room and board reporter Julie McKinney at [email protected].