Staying true to its name, Grand Valley State University’s Intercultural Festival will include many events having to do with all different cultures that are on campus. Throughout the week, there will be a number of different events from student organizations across campus that all aim to do one thing: display their culture and allow students to interact with them.
About Native American culture
Kicking off the week, the Native American Student Association is hosting an event in the Kirkhof Center lobby on Monday from 10 a.m. to noon. The drum group Wandering Nation will be performing, and a few different vendors will be making crafts such as beadwork and ash baskets.
The purpose of the event is to bring together both traditional and modern Native American art in an interactive way so students can talk to the vendors and drummers, see what they’re making, ask questions and learn about the culture to prevent stereotyping.
“This is who we are and since there is so much variety in Native American culture, we’re not all the same, and we think people should know about the different tribes and differences in culture,” said Nikole LeCompte, president of the Native American Student Association.
About Islamic culture
The week of the Intercultural Festival coincides with GVSU’s Islamic Awareness Week sponsored by the Muslim Student Association. On Monday, from 10 a.m. to noon and again from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the MSA will be in the Kirkhof lobby handing out headscarves for hijabs (in Laker blue) as part of their “Try a Hijab for a Day” event.
The hijabs are to be worn for an entire day, and on Tuesday at 7 p.m., the organization will hold a discussion in Kirkhof room 2266 to talk about each individual’s experience as they wore the hijab. Students can also ask questions about Islamic culture.
The idea of the event came from the organization wanting to set up an interactive learning experience for students who may not know much about Islam to prevent stereotyping.
“To learn about something, it’s better to experience it firsthand rather than to read about it online or believe stereotypes,” said Yousra Hamed, secretary of the MSA.
About Asian culture
Finishing out the events on Monday, the Asian Student Union is holding a Cultural Station event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Pere Marquette Room in Kirkhof. The event allows students to discover and learn more about Asian culture by providing interactive stations.
About drag culture
On Thursday, the Residence Housing Association is hosting a drag show in the Cook-Dewitt Center from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Complete with professional queens from Power Diva, the show will include dancing and singing. The show has been put on before by the organization, and this year RHA teamed up with Out ‘N’ About for the Intercultural Festival.
“Many people may have a certain idea about drag, and I encourage people to come because it’s just a bunch of people doing something that they enjoy, and it’s awesome to watch,” said Jorden LaRose, vice president of programming for the RHA.
At the event, the RHA is asking for non-perishable donations to the Women’s Food Pantry.
Finishing out the week, on Friday, there will be a cultural sensitivity workshop that takes place in Pere Marquette in Kirkhof from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“A lot of people want to learn more because they don’t want to be culturally ignorant, but they also don’t want to be racist or come off as offensive,” LeCompte said. “By putting ourselves out there, it helps to start those conversations and open up that dialogue to learn more.”