Culture Shock makes space for performances by students of color

Photo by Mike Oh

By Mona Ghorbani-Aghdam

“Culture Shock came as a way to showcase Western’s underrepresented community for the rest of campus,” Daniela Tierra, cultural education coordinator for the ESC, said.Bright colors, traditional clothing, poetry and spoken words. The Ethnic Student Center kicked off their two-day block party with their 20th annual Culture Shock show at the Performing Arts Center on Friday, May 10.

The production of the show took about two months to prepare and involved a crew from the Performing Arts Center, a full staff’s assistance from the ESC as well as volunteers, Tierra said.

The show started off with a vocal performance by the Filipino-American Student Association Vocal Point. The crowd was cheering them on throughout their performance.
During their cover of “A Whole New World” from the movie “Aladdin,” students held up their phones with the screen on and slowly waved their arms side to side.

According to fourth-year student Ian Chandra Lim, musical theatre is an important part of his identity. He performed two solos which included “Burn” by Phillipa Soo from the musical “Hamilton”.

“My personal favorite performance of the night was definitely Ian Lim’s performance,” third-year student Usama Arshad said. “Ian’s singing was incredible and I was so proud to be a part of the audience.”

According to Tierra, ESC assistant director for club logistics, Soumya Ayela did an incredible job with the light cues this year and she was excited to see it all in action.
During intermissions, the emcees of the night had the crowd engaged by playing games such as “name that song” and “finish the lyrics.” The prizes were limited edition ESC Block Party stickers.

Western students Abdul Malik Ford, Sofian Mahmoud, Aminata Dolo and Valeria Pedraza rapped on stage, reflecting on personal and societal issues they have experienced. The audience snapped their fingers and praised the performers for their raw emotions when presenting their pieces.

According to second-year Elias Bashir, Culture Shock is a constructive outlet for students of color in a school that is dominated by white people.

“Culture Shock shouldn’t be the only outlet for students of color, but it is an outlet,” Bashir said.

To finish off the show, the South Asian Student Association performed a Bollywood style dance following a story line of two people who meet and fall in love, to their parents’ disapproval.

“We used a mashup of four very popular Bollywood songs,” Arshad said. “Two of which are considered classics and are very iconic so we are very excited to dance with them.”
The ESC block party continued the following Saturday, May 11, when they hosted their third annual Night Market at Red Square.

The Night Market: A Night Around The World is a place for clubs to fundraise while selling their cultural foods, handmade items and items that have cultural significance.

“The most rewarding part of the event is being so incredibly proud of all the work the performers have accomplished as well as my incredible coworkers,” Tierra said.

This article was updated on May 20 to correct the description of the performance done by students from spoken word to rapping.

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