By Durgin McCue
A cultural pride celebration was held in the BTC auditorium on Thursday, Feb. 19. The evening event attracted about 100 students and community members, who were treated to performances from a variety of cultures.
The event began with an introduction by the two hostesses, Fanny Motey and Bintou Cisse. Both Motey and Cisse are originally from West Africa and are students at Hudson Valley. A traditional Ivorian dance performance by the Ahsoego Dance Company kicked off the event after a brief announcement thanking those present for attending.
The Ahsoego Dance Company is an Albany-based dance team that leads dance classes every Saturday at Albany Barn. The group provided background drumming throughout the celebration and performed a rhythmic song near the end of the stage performance.
The leader of Ahsoego, Atito Ghoti, is originally from the Ivory Coast. At one point during the event, Ghoti performed a traditional West African dance that was an athletic display similar to breakdancing.
After the dance performance, the event transitioned into a series of monologues given by members of the Hudson Valley community. The monologues were chronicles of the lives of the speakers, who were mostly from countries in West Africa such as Guinea, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast.
The performances were followed by a fashion show featuring clothes from a large number of different cultures. Many of those who took part in the fashion show wore clothes from their nation of origin. Some of the nations represented included the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Korea, and Sweden.
The event was closed by Louis Coplin, director of student life and advisor for the student senate. Coplin thanked those who attended again as well as the Black and Latino Student Union and the Student Senate, who contributed to organizing the event. Throughout the speech, Coplin wore a glossy purple shirt called a “bazin riche,” traditionally from West Africa.
Following Coplin’s closing statement was a banquet for those who attended the event. The banquet featured dishes representing a large variety of cultures. Dishes from Argentina, England, India, Greece, Jamaica, Japan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Russia, and the United States were all present on one table.
All the foods served, except the sushi, were prepared by Chartwells and served by members of the Vikings football team. According to John Poole, director of dining services for Chartwells, it took about 20 hours of labor between three people to prepare all the dishes.
“We are willing to make anything from Nigerian dishes to Irish dishes to traditional banquet foods,” said Poole. “It’s based on the needs of the guests.”
The two speakers at the event doubled as the organizers of the performance and following banquet. “My role in organizing Cultural Pride Night was finding the performers,” said Motey.
Motey, who is in her last semester at Hudson Valley, described the event as “our pride and joy.”
“We wanted to make sure that this event would be so successful to the point that it will become a tradition at Hudson Valley,” said Motey.
This sentiment was shared by some of those who attended the banquet. “It was amazing; it was cool.” said Azmad Din, an engineering science student at Hudson Valley. “I liked the music, the dancing. It was sick.”
Din, who was involved with cultural celebrations in high school, said that the event stood out to him because it was not the sort of thing he usually sees on the Hudson Valley campus.
“I don’t see things like this,” said Din. “It was different, it was nice to see. We should have more of these kind of things.”
Bintou Cisse, an organizer and speaker at the event, said, “We hope that this event will remain on the student activities calendar in the future. And we really hope that more students will get involved with it.”