IU students Shreya Sundaresan and Sydney Kaniuk pose for a photo in the photo booth tent Aug. 22 at CultureFest. Students sought shelter in tents at the festival due to rain.

Haley Klezmer
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Dancers in all black outfits stared out into the crowd after performing in the IU auditorium. This was just the start of what students were about to experience at CultureFest on Thursday afternoon. 

“Cultures from all over the globe, diversity of every kind is foundational to who we are and what makes IU a great university,” IU Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, John Nieto-Phillips said. 

Students visited booths of people, food and music that represented the different cultural groups at IU. It did rain, but it didn’t stop students from getting food and learning about new cultures. 

Some of the groups included African American Arts Institute, Asian Culture Center, CaRLA, Disability Services for Students, First Nations Educational & Cultural Center, LGBTQ+ Culture Center, International Services, La Casa Latino Cultural Center and Neal Marshall Black Culture Center.

While umbrellas and people bumped into each other, students ate a variety of foods from sweet bread at La Casa’s booth to popsicles at the LGBTQ+ Culture Center’s booth. 

“I’m eating something from La Casa,” freshman Keara Bosa said. “I don’t know what it is, but everybody kind of has their own culture and the way they do things and the food you eat.” 

Students visited these groups’ booths following diversity and inclusion strategist Chevara Orin’s speech. Orin told the audience even though she had not attended IU as a student, she did feel welcome at IU. 

Students showed up to this year’s CultureFest at Showalter Fountain despite the rain.

Orin said her next door neighbor, a white middle-aged man, would sit on his porch pointing his double-barreled shotgun at Orin and her family as they would walk by. Her mom would tell her and her sister that Mr. Jack, the neighbor, had a problem, not them. 

Bosa and freshman LaDonna Emeli and said they enjoyed the speech from Orin, who told many of her own personal stories. Both of them were interested in joining at least one of the groups from the event. Emeli said she felt a sort of deeper connection with the African Dance Company performance because of her roots. 

“Culture is very deep,” Emeli said. “It comes back to origin and history, so I feel like I could connect with the dancers.”

Bosa said she is interested in La Casa. To Bosa, culture is more of a way of life, and she acknowledges that one person’s way of life may not be the same as hers, especially at IU. 

“IU has so many different people,” Bosa said. “IU is growing in diversity and we are encouraging more people to come from different backgrounds.”

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