Under the Roof of UMKC

Photos by Brandon Parigo, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

People come together in peace

Nearly 1,400 people packed UMKC’s Pierson Auditorium and Swinney Recreation Center on Saturday, April 22 for Culture Night, the biggest and most diverse cultural event at UMKC.

“Culture Night brings UMKC and the Kansas City community together,” said Gharib Gharibi, an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. student in Computer Science and Telecommunications and Computer Networks. He is a UMKC International Student Ambassador, the organizing group for Culture Night.

Culture Night is an annual event that brings together students, faculty, staff and Kansas City community members to celebrate cultural diversity through ethnic food, fashion and talent shows. Festivities began in Pierson Auditorium where people sampled food and learned about clothing, music, art and dance from the native lands of UMKC’s international students. A talent and fashion show rounded out the evening in Swinney Recreation Center where awards were presented for talent, food and booth.

“I want the world to know that people from more than 80 countries worldwide were able to come together in peace and love under the roof of UMKC, throwing behind them their religious and race differences,” Gharibi said. “We proved to the world that we, students at UMKC, have bridged the gaps between people from distant places with different mindsets and we came all together and shared cultures, food, outfits, dances, ideas and most importantly acceptance and love!”

With the many contentious issues and events happening around the world, Gharibi said it’s important for students to learn from and accept each other despite race, religion, sexual orientation or any other means.

“Culture Night is about exchanging culture, understanding and acceptance.”

Ibrahim Shilbaya, a UMKC School of Pharmacy student, shared his culture at the Levantine countries booth, representing the countries of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Palestine. Featured at the table were samples of tea; kurshale, maqloubet zahra, a rice and meat dish cooked in a pot that is flipped over when served; hummus and pita bread; salatah bitihinia, tahini arabic salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, mint and tihini; and tablouleh. Traditional musical instruments were displayed, including the oud, the ancestor of the modern guitar; a tablah, similar to a small drum; hand-made wooden games and game pieces; silver and brass; and Palestinian prayer rugs. Shilbaya enjoyed sharing the history and traditions of his homeland, often known as the land of figs and olives.

“We all have similar cultures,” Shilbaya said.

Children and adults enjoyed a game of flag pong at the International Student Council table. Hieu Trinh, a third year computer science student, is president of the council.

“I want to meet new people and make friends. We want to provide a fun and safe place for students.”

Melisa Coloma and Rocio Altamirano gave out samples of sopapillas. Both are exchange students from Chile. They are attending the UMKC Applied Language Institute this semester. Altamirano said she noticed many people don’t know about Chile. Participating in Culture Night gave her the opportunity to share her country with others. She and Coloma will return to Chile to teach English.

Awards went to:

Best Dish: Zaheer Mohammed Siddique for his dish Special Hyderabadi Biryani.

Best Booth: The Levantine Countries (Noor Al Taai, Hamza Baghdadi, Nada Derbas, Deena Essa, Ayman Khalaf, Ibrahim Shilbaya and Samira Zantout)

Talent Show:

First Place: Indian Dance by Navya Reddy, Sri Ravi Lellapalli, Vasmi Krishna Chintala, Kavyasri Jampuram, Adrarsh Mergoju, Swetcha Reddy, Vasmi Rajarikam and Lakshmi Swetha Ramisetty.

Second Place: Vietnamese Dance by Tommii Luu, Aimee Tran, Hieu Phung, Tran Tran, Kha Tran and Linh La.

Third Place: A song by Tian Hao, China

Culture night was organized by the International Student Ambassadors and the International Student Affairs Office. The following countries were represented by booths and in talent and fashion shows: Andorra, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Georgia, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Syria, Turkey, United States and Vietnam. This free event, open to UMKC and the Kansas City community, was made possible by sponsorship from the UMKC Student Government Association, the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, ABC Café, Sahara, Taste of Africa and the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management.

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