Passport to Columbia

This Saturday I visited numerous cultures from around the world, all while staying comfortably in Lerner Hall. Passport to Columbia, began last year by the Columbia College and Engineering Student Councils, celebrates the wonderfully diverse backgrounds and cultures of Columbia students.

Like most good events, the night began with a dash for free food. After a few frantic moments in which no one seemed able to locate a plate, I managed to grab the flimsy paper essential and began piling on the good stuff. I sampled a piece of vegetable sushi, some delicious bright orange Indian vegetable dish, fried rice, and a Thai wrap thing that made salad delightfully portable. For dessert, the French Cultural Society gave me a homemade crepe with Nutella (they made their own crepes and chocolate mousse!).

Sufficiently sated, the audience settled in for a fantastic performance featuring over a dozen groups of all types. Some standouts were Dhoom, a new Bollywood dance group that brings together traditional Indian styles with modern moves; Columbia Classical Performers, whose violinists brought the house down with their furious fiddling; and Raw Elementz, which seems to have tripled in size with some fierce new members. But the best part for me was seeing the crossover of culture; many groups feature members of all kinds of backgrounds, brought together because they love the culture, not necessarily because they were born into it.

I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I’ve still never been to a culture show before, but after seeing the groups from Friday night, that is definitely going to be one of my priorities for this semester. Maybe I’ll even venture into Chinatown for the Chinese New Year celebration, or catch one of the new French films at the New York Film Festival. Anyone want to join me?

*****

Darcy Zacharias, CC ’10

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