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Intercultural Day showcases HPU diversity

by Christine Ah Yee, assoc. Lifestyles editor


The April 16 Intercultural Day marked the 20th anniversary of HPU’s celebration of its cultural diversity. Twenty years ago Assistant Professor of psychology Howard Mark-owitz, then advisor to the International Student Organization (ISO), helped create an event to allow students to share their cultures. The now biannual Intercultural Day has grown into a spectacular pageant of cultural awareness that culminates one of the five themes taught here at HPU.

The ISO is, today, the Council of Countries and is made up of members of the International Student Association. Student Life and the Career Services Center Co-sponsors of Intercultural Day, coordinated the many different groups that participated. These included the student organizations for Africa, Bulgaria, China, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Indonesia, Israel, Latinos Unidos, Malaysia, Norway, Samoa, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, and Hawai‘i.

The day was filled with elaborate costumes, exhibits showcasing cultural artifacts, a parade of cultures and their perspective flags, presentations of awards and, most anticipated, the performances of cultural dances and song.

“Groups participate because they are proud of their heritage,” said Ann Newton, director of International Student Services. “They want to share it with the students and the downtown community.”

Lolan Lauvao, HPU senior and Samoan Club president said, “We want to share and display our culture to those who don’t know who and what Samoans are. We are proud of our heritage” HPU freshman Nivemarie Leituala, born in Western Samoa but raised in American Samoa, said: “Samoans take pride in their culture, dances, and song, and whenever they have a chance to represent these, they will.”

The Thai Student Association had the same excitement sharing their cultural heritage with HPU and the community. Dressed from head-to-toe in traditional garb, the magnificent colors and detailed head gear had people staring in awe.

“I love my culture,” said HPU graduate student Surasak (Lee) Chanaudom-passorn, “and I want to show everyone that the Thai culture is very interesting. We are known for our dance and our dancers who need to be smooth yet flexible.”

“Seeing all the the different cultures that make HPU unique reminds us that we are all members of a learning community working to relate to and acknowledge each other’s diversities,” said junior Loren Moreno. “This is what Intercultural Day is about, and why we must continue to showcase and hopefully expand it.”

Overall winners were the Samoan club, which took the performance and exhibit awards and shared parade honors with the Thai Student Association.



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