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Saturday, June 6, 2020

ESC’s annual culture shock showcased cultures at Western

By Ashley Lockett

The Ethnic Student Center rang in the start of June with their annual Culture Shock. The two-hour-long event consisted of performances that ranged from cultural dances to medleys, to spoken word and even an impromptu freestyle performed by one of the MC’s for the night, Sofian Mahmoud, and audience member Abdul-Malik Ford.

The night started with a lively modern tap dance performance from the Vietnamese Student Association, followed by a performance from the Filipino American Student Association.

“Now that is how you start culture shock,” Jana Obune, another MC from the night, said following the VSA performance.

Baile Folklorico performing a traditional dance for the Culture Shock Audience. // Photo by Ashley Lockett

Culture Shock is a student-led event and focuses on expressing the many cultures that are represented through the ESC.

“What we try to showcase is all the cultures that we house in the ESC and creating that space for everybody, but mostly for POCs to embrace different cultures, dances and performances,” Phillip Wu, Associated Students ESC assistant coordinator for club events, said.

Having grown up in a Chinese-Costa Rican household, Wu said he really resonated with Keoni Ng and Eric Anderson’s performance of a Cantonese song that was representative of Chinese karaoke culture.

“I can further appreciate my identity and see that other people also appreciate it and that’s something that is always good to be reminded of,” Wu said.

Erick Yanzon and Jas on the guitar, singing Sam Smith’s “Too Good at Goodbyes.” // Photo by Ashley Lockett

While some performances involved upbeat dances or songs to signify different cultures, other performers took the stage to highlight their identity to the audience with poetry and spoken word.

“These events are so critical not only to empower the students of color who participate and actually put an event like this on but for the non students of color who otherwise wouldn’t talk to these students or even think to inform themselves about the various religious groups, cultural groups or clubs,” Temesgen Melashu, a senior at Western who has previously been involved with the ESC, said.

For junior and Filipino American Student Association board member Hunter Eider, it was his third time performing at Culture Shock and he anticipates a new wave of students auditioning to share their culture for years to come.

The Western Hmong Student Association performing a traditional Hmong dance. // Photo by Ashley Lockett

“Not as many people are signing up to perform and so I’d really like to see more people come and perform and share their culture, whether it’s in the form of dance, song or poem,” Eider said.

For next year, he will once again be among the many who grace the stage to showcase one of the many cultures that thrive on Western’s campus.

“I hope that this is just the beginning and that we can then further elaborate and create more than just one event that happens in spring quarter,” Melashu said.

All 15 performances which involved solos, duets and clubs gather on stage for an end of the event photo. // Photo by Ashley Lockett

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