Delving into diversity at I-Fest
From the vast assortment of food around the McNeil Room to seeing the smiles of family and friends, Rensselaer’s annual International Fest is a celebration of RPI’s diverse student body. After a brief introduction from the Multicultural Leadership Council Chairperson Sam Harrison ’21, the Chinese American Student Association kicked off I-Fest with a traditional lion dance. The dance is thought to bring good luck and fortune at the beginning of special occasions.
This performance was followed by the African Student Association dance team’s energetic performance and then RPI’s Desi Network of Dance teams: Rudras, Gajjde Sher, and Rounak.
Rudras performed Bharatanatyam, a classical South Indian dance where performers express rhythmic cycles of footwork and elaborate arm movements while wearing bells on their feet. Gajjde Sher’s enthusiasm in their Bhangra dance was palpable, accentuated by the clapping of sapps (wooden instruments played like an accordion). RPI’s Bollywood fusion group, Rounak, topped off an exciting segment with a fun partner dance, holding decorative dandiya sticks in each hand.
CASA’s fan dance was graceful, featuring flower-shaped dance formations and calming music. Eighth Wonder’s choreography to Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello’s “Senorita” was well-done; other student groups in Eighth Wonder, Cubic 6 and RPOP danced to artists such as Blackpink, Chris Brown, B.A.P, Psy, and Jay Park.
Before, after, and even in between performances, family and friends were seen getting henna tattoos, sipping boba, grabbing a dosa or plate of chicken and plantains, trying pierogi or lumpia, chowing down on popcorn chicken, or topping off a delicious meal with some freshly-made egg puff desserts.
The Philippine American League’s partner dance was very special, as students hopped up and down benches while music played faster and faster.
I-Fest is a great way to learn about other cultures, and I know I’ll be back next year.