The University’s student organizations and community came together Thursday night to celebrate Cultural Night with food, dance and music. Hosted by the Office of Student Involvement together with the Office of International Programs, this event is held every year at the University to celebrate different cultures.
Usually held outside in the Quad, Cultural Night was instead held in the Ballroom to accommodate for the cold weather and slight drizzle, according to OIP Director Sandra Hansmann.
“This year it’s enclosed. The last one was outside. There looks like there is a lot more people, but because of the space,” said Oscar Mendoza, a 27-year-old UTPA graduate studying for his master’s in business administration. For the number of people attending and organizations presenting, the turnout appeared to be the same, according to Mendoza.
About 350 people congregated at the event to enjoy free food from other countries and witness performances by nine different groups, some of which included mariachi music, Indian dance and tai chi fan dance.
“I’m in love with Chinese culture,” said April Lopez, a 35-year-old UTPA graduate studying for her masters in nurse practitioning. “I’m with the Lianhong Chen company and we performed a tai chi fan dance.”
There were 11 student body organizations serving food from their preferred culture, some countries being represented were: Italy, Mexico, Brazil, India, the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico and France. Bucky, UTPA’s mascot, also made a guest appearance.
“Cultural Night gives a chance to try different food and learn about other cultures without traveling,” said 38-year-old President Javier Mireles of the health and kinesiology club representing Japan. “Roca Sushi of Pharr, Texas are good friends with the club. They brought the fridge, food, sushi and the sushi chef.”
Some of the food being served included: tamales with mexican fried rice and beans, sushi, french bread with french butter, pizza, fried plantains, pancit, egg rolls, corn in a cup and many others. The multicultural sorority inc. chose to represent Italy and served cavatini.
“We chose China previously, but we all love italian food so we decided on Italy,” said Ivanna Flores, 21-year-old president of Delta Xi Nu who is studying criminal justice. “Our dish is a layer of pasta, sauce, sliced pepperoni and mozzarella cheese.”
Another sorority, Kappa Delta Chi was also present and decided to ironically represent Greece with the grecian dessert baklava.
“We choose Greece because we are part of the greek society,” said Maggie Leal, a 20-year-old junior doubling majoring in chemistry and pre-pharmacy. “Our baklava went quickly, it tastes like nuts and honey. It’s crisp and super yummy.”
Red ticket stubs were handed out at the door for a chance to win a variety of prizes. 20-year-old sophomore business economics and finance major Michael Kent was one of the many winners.
“I’m surprised that it was an umbrella. Winter is coming, the cold rain is coming so I appreciate the prize,” said Kent. “There was a good turnout this year… it felt crowded. The food ran low with in the first hour.”
Although there were many organizations, the Student Government Association also attended representing the French. Matthew Garcia, 21-year-old SGA president was the MC for the night.
“I volunteered to be MC, they asked me and I was happy to do it,” Garcia said, a major in pre-med biology and political science. “I wish we could have had it outside, but the performances have been excellent and there was a great turnout.”