Culture Shock electrifies University

By Erin Kelley

For the past seven years, student and community organizations from different cultures have come together for Culture Shock, a celebration of multiculturalism with games, food, performances and more.

This year’s event will take place Saturday at the Illini Union and is sponsored by Together Encouraging the Appreciation of Multiculturalism and the Illini Union Board.

The festivities will include around 20 performances from various organizations on campus. It will start at 7:30 p.m. and continue until 12 a.m. A fashion show will be a new addition to the performances.

“The fashion show is a cool add-on,” said Ritu Parikh, a sophomore in LAS and the co-chair of Culture Shock. “It’s another way to get exposed to the different cultures.”

Booths will be set up in the south lounge of the Union for organizations to share information about themselves and their culture with the public. There will also be workshops that feature different dance groups including swing, salsa, country and hip-hop, which will teach anyone who is interested. Food from a variety of cultures will be available to the public as well, Parikh said.

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“This is the biggest event on campus that brings together almost every culture represented on campus and allows people to experience them through different mediums,” said Shoaa Ansari, a sophomore in LAS and the board’s co-chair of Culture Shock.

The entire event is free for both University students and the Champaign-Urbana community. Ansari said it is a great way to see and experience the fun side of different cultures.

Over the past two years that Parikh has worked on the event, she said Culture Shock has grown to include a wider variety of cultures as well as brought in a larger audience.

Parikh said she considers the event successful because it is one of the biggest unifying events on campus.

This year there are about 25 to 30 organizations that are involved in the event: about 17 clubs are performing and 10 clubs are setting up booths. Organizers are still awaiting confirmations from some clubs.

Culture Shock is one of the only events that captures a lot of cultures in one and embodies multiculturalism, Parikh said.

“It’s important because when you are on a really large campus that’s predominantly white, it’s for hard for everyone to be aware of diversity,” said Adele Lozano, director of La Casa Cultural Latina and assistant dean of students.

Although Lozano is relatively new to campus and has not experienced a Culture Shock, she said she comes from the University of Iowa where they had a similar event. Lozano pointed out that no matter what ethnicity students are, they all have a culture that should be celebrated and exposed so that everyone can better understand one another.