Cultural Showcase Returns with Enthusiasm After Pandemic Pause

Diversity; Students

Cultural diversity took center stage at the Brown School on March 28, as the Cultural Showcase made its eagerly anticipated comeback to in-person proceedings following a pandemic-induced hiatus.

A beloved tradition started by students over 25 years ago, the Cultural Showcase stands as the school’s longest running student-led initiative. Supported by the Brown School’s Global Program Office, the event treated attendees to an array of performances, presentations, stories, cuisine, and traditional attire, offering glimpses into cultures from across the world – from Azerbaijan to Uganda, Brazil to Taiwan, and beyond. 

Meza performs a Native American Hoop Dance.

Among the evening’s highlights was Victoria Meza’s Native American hoop dance, a deeply spiritual performance honed through a decade of dedication. Meza, a master of social work (MSW) student, shared insights into the meticulous preparation behind her performance.

“Lots and lots of practice! I first learned hoop dancing about 10 years ago. The hoops I danced with are the same ones I made back then. It’s possible to learn hoop dancing using someone else’s hoops, but the hoops we dance with are literally made for us – that is, usually, we make them ourselves! Native dancing in general differs based on gender- Women dance on their toes, and men are more flat-footed when they dance. Both are similar in that both styles require a lot of cardio!”

For Meza, the cultural dress presentation held particular significance. 

“I really enjoyed the confidence and joy on my classmates’ faces as they shared something so important to them,” she said.

The event also featured Phenyo Gaotlhobog’s evocative poem “My Tribes Live on Dancing Smiles,” which vividly portrayed Botswana’s landscapes and customs.

Gaotlhobog reads a poem about the people of Botswana. 

“The poem is written to welcome tourists while celebrating the immense beauty of the people of Botswana using metaphors, symbolism and imagery,” explained Gaotlhobog, a master’s in public health (MPH) student. “The poem explores the rich historical and cultural context of Botswana, taking a deep dive into its captivating tourist attractions, including the awe-inspiring landscape and popular tourist sites.”

The program showcased a myriad of talents, from Elman Suleymanov’s piano performance representing Azerbaijan to Kayleigh Moulton’s exploration of Cherokee Tear Bead necklaces, to Lillie Kang’s flute rendition of a traditional Korean folk song and Professor Rodrigo Reis’ musical interlude.

The festivities concluded with a reception catered by Falafel Saha, an immigrant owned catering company, serving Syrian food, underscoring the event’s commitment to cultural inclusivity and diversity.