College Council Hosts Second Annual Culture Shock

Performance _ Raj jasani_ Arya Kishor_Preeyal Gupta_ Sarada Kolli
As part of the second annual Culture Shock, an event showcasing the diverse backgrounds of Emory students, Indian folk dance team SaRaas performed at the WHSCAB on Friday night. | Photo by Jason Oh, Staff Photographer

By Annie McGrew
Staff Writer

The second annual Culture Shock kicked off on Friday night (Nov. 7) with an interactive speech from Eddie Huang, a famous chef and food personality.

The event, hosted by College Council (CC), filled the seats of the Woodruff Health Sciences Administration Building (WHSCAB), holding around 500 attendees, according to College senior and CC President Adam Chan. Culture Shock featured multicultural performances, discussion and food and “sought to celebrate the unique diversity of the Emory community,” according to Chan.

Walking in 30 minutes late and finishing up a last-minute text as he approached the stage, Huang greeted the crowd and continued with a humorous but engaging speech.

Huang noted that college is an important time to figure out who you are but dismissed the idea of finding your own place in the world.

“We should all seek to create our own place and create our own identities, our own world,” he said.

As an Asian-American growing up in the United States, Huang said this is exactly what he has done.

Huang also discussed some of the recent discrimination incidents that have been reported on Emory’s campus.

“It’s sad that in 2014, this is still happening,” he said, telling students that discrimination is “not cool.”

Culture Shock is designed as an interactive event, including students and cultural organizations, according to Chan.

“College Council wanted to address student and administration concerns in fostering an inclusive community of care,” Chan wrote in an email to the Wheel. Chan wrote that he particularly enjoyed Huang’s discussion and how Huang addressed concerns not only of Asian-American identity, but also shared his thoughts regarding the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and racism more generally.

“His approach is very blunt which might have shocked students in the audience, but we wanted someone who could directly speak to students to spark open dialogue about race,” Chan wrote.

Following Huang’s speech, several groups performed at the event, including Aural Pleasure, a co-ed a capella group; SaRaas, a Garba/Raas dance team; and the Brotherhood for Afrocentric Men (BAM), a community service organization and step team for first-year male students,

When the performances ended, students headed upstairs for a reception, where many student groups held booths showcasing their foods and traditions. Student organizations present included the Asian Student Organization, the Filipino Student Association, Hillel, the Slavic Club, the Indian Culture Exchange (ICE), Emory Students for Israel, the African Student Association and many more.

During the reception, students chatted and visited the booths. A circle of viewers formed around sororities and fraternities performing strolls, or signature, stylized dances, during the reception.

Overall, many students said they enjoyed the event. College junior Katherine Couch said the event was a great reflection of the different cultures at Emory.

College junior Yissel Guerrero commented that the food was “d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s” and noted that people were standing in the aisles of the auditorium, showing how popular the event was.

“[The event] really opened my eyes to the issues different cultures face in our society” Guerrero said, citing a question from the question and answer period, where an Asian-American student noted how race issues are generally discussed in terms of black and white, leaving other races out of the issue.

College sophomore Sharon Zhang enjoyed the event but felt the event could have incorporated more multicultural activities.

“Last year people were doing lots of different dances, and there were more performances,” Zhang said. “This year, people are just standing around eating food.”

Both Chan and College junior and College Council Vice President Alyssa Weinstein were very pleased with the attendance at the event.

Weinstein said she thought this year’s event was the best yet and that they had much higher attendance this year than last year.

“We felt as though we were able to achieve our goal of increasing exposure of the various cultural groups on campus to those who may not have otherwise gotten to experience them,” Weinstein said.

According to Weinstein, in the future CC would like to continue to promote Culture Shock and make it a staple at Emory so students may know about the event and can look forward to it each year.

— By Annie McGrew, Staff Writer