Las Vegas, N.M. – Highlands University’s first Culture Fest March 28 – April 1 celebrates the rich diversity of global cultures through music, food, films, theater and dance.
Students from 33 countries and 12 Native American tribes attend Highlands, with many participating in Culture Fest.
All the events are open to the public and most are free.
“Culture Fest will be an exciting and fun feast for the senses,” said Yvette Wilkes, Housing and Student Conduct director. “We wanted a festival that showcases and celebrates multicultural contributions to our campus, community, country and world. We want people to come away from Culture Fest feeling like we’re all more alike than different. We plan to make it an annual event.”
Wilkes spearheaded Culture Fest with help from the university’s International Education Center, Native American Services Office, HU-CARES, and Ilfeld Auditorium.
“This weeklong event exemplifies what it means to be a multicultural campus, where we eliminate the fear of the ‘other’ or unknown,” said Corilia Ortega, HU-CARES director. “HU-CARES has always been a center that teaches and promotes acceptance, respect and love. Culture Fest aims to do that too.”
A theatrical highlight of Culture Fest is They Call Me Q, an award-winning solo comedic play starring Qurrat Ann Kadwani, who was born in India and grew up in the Bronx. She will perform March 28 at 7 p.m. in Ilfeld Auditorium. General admission tickets are $5, and it is free to Highlands faculty, staff and students with ID.
The complete schedule for Culture Fest is online at www.nmhuculturefest.wordpress.com
Culture Fest is organized around global geography, and each day kicks off with world music from the featured locale from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the Student Union Building, 800 National Ave. A’viands, the university’s food service, is preparing world cuisine for lunch each day from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the student union dining hall. Tickets for the public are $7.
Wilkes said a culinary highlight of Culture Fest is a sumptuous world food tasting buffet from the seven continents March 30 from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom. The cost is $15.
“It will be a wonderful array of flavors to excite your taste buds, from savory to sweet,” Wilkes said.
Films at Culture Fest include comedies, dramas and documentaries.
“One goal of Culture Fest was to choose some films that focus on humor rather than conflict and anger,” said Tina Clayton, International Education Center director. “This approach helps people understand and appreciate cultural differences.”
Some of the free films include American Fusion, a Latino and Chinese comedy, Life and Debt, a Jamaican documentary and Good Hair, an African-American documentary.
Other films will focus on Native American culture.
“I chose the films One Thousand Voices, Miss Navajo and Smoke Signals because they give a behind-the-scenes look at Native American culture that you can’t learn from a textbook,” said Robert Romero, Native American Services director. “The films give an insider’s perspective of traditional native teachings and customs.”
Some of the performances in the student union include the Highlands Jazz Ensemble playing March 28 at 12 p.m.; the university’s Cameroonian and Jamaican students dancing March 29 at 12 p.m. followed by the United World College – USA African Chorus singing at 12:15 p.m.; and Highlands students from India dancing March 31 from 12 – 1:30 p.m.
On April 1, HU-CARES will lead a Diversity Unity March at 12 p.m. from Centennial Park at 8th Street and National Avenue to the student union. A Diversity Dance Off follows from 12:30 – 2 p.m.
“You will experience the beauty of watching Native American tribal dancers, along with learning how to get your own dance boogie on,” Ortega said.
The corporate sponsor for Culture Fest is Southwest Capital Bank.
Other Highlands sponsors for Culture Fest include the Office of the President, Dean of Students Office, and the Associated Students of New Mexico Highlands University.