The student center ballroom was decorated wall-to-wall with flags from different countries. Students, faculty, staff and alumni from various cultural backgrounds sat together to celebrate those differences with food and performances.
The Intercultural Exchange Club (IEC) hosted the second BU World Culture Night on Nov. 15. The 14 cultural organizations at Bradley were collaborators for the event.
Micah Yoon, president of IEC, said the purpose of the event is to bring more cultural awareness to campus.
“We want to give everybody an opportunity to witness and see and experience the different cultures that are represented here at Bradley,” Yoon, a senior middle school math education major, said.
The event featured performances from local talent including the Peking Opera, the Butterfly Fashion Team and the Peoria Folklore Ballet. Bradley’s K-Pop dance club, K 18, also performed a dance.
Local restaurants Jimador, Thanh Linh, Haddad’s and Popeyes provided food for attendees to sample dishes popular in different cultures. Challah on the Hilltop also brought challah, a traditional egg bread in the Jewish culture, for people to try.
According to Yoon, a goal of the event is for people to come with a positive attitude about culture awareness, and she thinks the event is important for people to express their cultural roots.
“Starting from my freshman year, I felt like … expressing your culture wasn’t as important as some of the sports teams or academics,” Yoon said. “But culture is still all around us.”
Ariana Galvez, a sophomore political science and international studies double major, said she liked what she experienced at the event.
“I got to try different foods that I probably wouldn’t have tried because they’re really out of my comfort zone and I really enjoyed the performances because you get to see the way different cultures express themselves,” Galvez said.
Jacqueline Hogan, professor of sociology and anthropology, gave a keynote speech about the importance of cultural exchange. She described how it impacted her life and how it is beneficial in the workplace.
Hogan also compared culture to bananas. She said there is only one kind of banana popularly grown and it is on the brink of extinction because it is unable to resist a disease facing that species.
“I want to argue that in a way cultures are like bananas,” Hogan said in her speech. “The more culture diversity we have, whether that is around the world or around the table, the more likely we are to survive and thrive as a species.”
Margelees Cerda, a junior sociology major, said this was her favorite part of Hogan’s speech.
“She used this analogy really creatively because she said how there’s this crisis in bananas and because they’re all the same, this virus is able to destroy them,” Cerda said. “I felt like that was a really interesting take on the whole perspective of culture.”
Hogan ended the speech with her “five dividends of incalculable value” that cultural diversity offers: curiosity, connection, compassion, critical thinking and creative problem solving.
Galvez also enjoyed how Hogan’s speech explained how diversity can promote curiosity and compassion.
“It was really important, I think, to have people from different cultures be here because Bradley and the world as a whole is not all the same,” Galvez said.