On Feb. 17, the International Students’ Association (ISA) held an event called The Cultural Night in Upper Strong. The performers included No Jackets Required, UR Celtic, Lalita, Jashan, Rit, and Isabelle, TOOP, Trebellious, Persian Student Association, Aparajeeta Majumder, S.A.L.S.E.R.O.S., Rochester Rangoli, Ma’Frisah, the Midnight Ramblers, and Rochester Bhangra.
One of the performers, Aparajeeta Majumder, said, “Cultural night is important because it promotes cultural awareness and understanding, preserves and celebrates cultural heritage, fosters a sense of community and belonging, and provides a platform for artistic expression and creativity.”
UR is a diverse university with many international students as well as students from various heritages and cultures. To honor this, groups like ISA put on events like The Cultural Night in order to give students an opportunity to express themselves and their diversity.
This directly resonates with Majumder as she began training in the form of an Indian classical dance called Bharatanatyam from a young age and then that became an “integral part of [her] identity.” She said that “this art form not only allowed [her] to cultivate a deep connection with my cultural roots, but also gave [her] a sense of purpose and joy that has stayed with [her] to this day.”
She believes that The Cultural Night was the perfect platform to share her passion for Indian classical dance and to celebrate her culture. In addition, she was able to learn about other cultures and promote inclusivity and diversity.
“Cultural night can have a positive effect on a diverse student body in several ways. It can promote cultural awareness and appreciation, increase understanding and respect for different cultures and traditions, create a sense of belonging and inclusivity for students from different backgrounds, and provide opportunities for students to share and learn from one another’s cultural experiences,” said Majumder.
Sometimes, cultures can get buried under the school curriculum — one solution for the danger of silencing various cultures of the student body is to provide students with a place to express themselves.
“As a performer, my favorite part of any event is being appreciated by the audience. It’s an incredible feeling when someone approaches you after a show and tells you how much they enjoyed your performance, and how it made them feel,” said Majumder.
The Cultural Night allows the student body to be able to experience a variety of different cultures other than their own and also present them in an entertaining yet informative manner. The attendance was fairly strong, and based on the positive chatter in the audience, the student body seemed to enjoy the performances.
“I would like to extend my gratitude to ISA and the University of Rochester for organizing the event and for always supporting the international community. I believe that events like this are important not only for fostering cultural understanding and appreciation, but also for bringing people together and creating a sense of unity and belonging,” said Majumder.