Dressed in gold, orange and black, 11 dancers slapped their bodies and the stage floor, providing percussion for the a cappella singing they gyrated to. Moving in unison, they formed intricate patterns of sound and motion.
The dance and song were performed by members of the Indonesian Student Association at Penn State as a part of the World Culture Festival. The event, held in Heritage Hall at the HUB-Robeson Center on campus, was organized by five Penn State freshmen for a Schreyer Honors College class. The idea was to have an event to showcase the various cultures on and around campus.
“It’s all about promoting intercultural relations between people, not just PSU students, but in the State College community in general,” said Trishita Bhattacharya, a freshman from India and one of the organizers of the festival.
There were 10 other performances of either music or dance, from jazz to classical Chinese, that rounded out the rest of the festival.
Tables staffed by members of various international student groups ringed the hall and offered glimpses of the country or culture each represented by providing both information and showing off art.
A map of Indonesia and cultural artifacts, like masks and musical instruments, adorned the area occupied by the Indonesian students. Celine Tesvara, a freshman from Sumatra, Indonesia, who also danced at the festival, helped with the brief “tour” of her homeland, a daunting task considering the archipelago is composed of more than 17,000 islands and many ethnic groups.
She was proud to share knowledge of the islands with others, she said.
“This made me really appreciate my country more and all the cultures there,” she said.
Food added to the multicultural taste of the event. Free Indian and Mexican food was available for visitors to try.
Ron and Sue Smith, of Lemont, were both performers and spectators. They played in the jazz band that opened the performances at 5 p.m. They decided to stick around afterward to see what the other shows had to offer. Ron said he liked the other performances, especially the Indonesian welcome. The complexity of it was impressive, he said.
“It was amazing,” Sue said.
Debra Lavagnino, of North Wales, was at the event because she is a friend of the professor who teaches the course.
She was glad to attend the festival because it offered a glimpse into other cultures. She recently experienced life in another country firsthand, having spent the past three years teaching kindergarten in China.
“I’m glad to be back in America, but I was missing some international flavor,” she said.