On Friday Oct. 28, the Slater International Student Organization held this year’s Culture Show, an annual event spotlighting dance, song, fashion shows and martial arts performed by individual students and cultural organizations at the College. This year’s show was themed “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” inspired by the 2022 film directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. According to Sanika Merchant ’25, Slater’s Culture Show Chair, along with Diya Khanna ’25, the broad theme was meant to complement the diversity of cultures represented in the show.
“[The theme] was reflective of the amalgamation of different cultures at Wellesley,” Merchant said.
The Culture Show began with Wellesley Asian Dance Organization’s (WADO) performance of Annual Rings, a graceful traditional Chinese dance using fans, and it ended with the annual Culture Show Fashion Show, a celebratory event during which students walked down the aisles of Alumnae Hall and stood on stage together, wearing clothes and holding flags significant to their cultures and traditions. Rahnuma Aroshi ’25 wore a green anarkali dress and held a flag to represent Bangladesh.
“Everyone was so talented, and I loved seeing everyone’s performances,” said Aroshi, reflecting on the night.
This year’s Culture Show was the first held in person since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve always loved the Culture Show. I’m glad I got to have a final one on campus,” said Hazar Ghaith ’23, Slater president.
Following WADO’s dance, Wellesley Kapatid performed the Sakuting, a Filipino cultural dance significant to the Ilocanos using bamboo sticks. Hui o Hawai’i performed a dance to the traditional song ‘Ulupalakua,’ Wellesley Aiko performed Kiyohime with drums and the Wellesley Shotokan Karate Club performed intermediate fifth-level and beginner first-level kata, choreographed fight sequences. Ghaith performed Dabke, a Levantine Arab folk dance popular in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, as a member of the Arab Student Alliance (ASAL). Ghaith first began performing in the Culture Show with ASAL as a first-year, and wanted to enjoy the Culture Show behind the scenes and onstage as a senior.
“You want to do as much as you can, knowing that it’s your last culture show. Being president, you want it to go well and for people to have fun,” Ghaith said.
ASAL was followed by the first-year members of Slater performing a group dance to a creative medley of K-pop songs.
The Culture Show organizers, Merchant and Khanna, worked to include as many cultures and traditions as possible in the show. While Merchant and Khanna led organizing efforts, the show was created by all members of Slater e-board, who participated in different task forces to share their strengths.
“This entire culture show … really showed me the power of teamwork and collaboration,” said Merchant.
Slater partnered with many departments and student organizations for the show, including the Pakistani Students Association (PSA). In partnership with Slater, PSA raised funds at the event for the Dastak Foundation’s Dignity and #ForYouMaa Campaigns, which aim to support menstruating and pregnant individuals adversely affected by the flood crisis in Pakistan through the provision of dignity kits – which include sanitary napkins and pads, underwear, soap, tissue paper and other essentials – and Maa Kits/prenatal kits to support pregnant people.
The second half of the Culture Show began with Wellesley Wushu’s powerful performance of its “Traditional Act,” a showcase of Chinese martial arts weapon forms based on the Shaolin and Taolu traditions. Shantha Venugopal ’23 sang a rendition of Shayad, a Hindi song by Taba Chake, and the Yanvalou Drum and Dance Ensemble drummed Ijexa, an Afro-Brazilian song of resistance. The final performances included a group dance by Slater e-board, choreographed by Ghaith, Angel Liu’s high-energy solo dance to Beyonce’s “Partition” and the Fashion Show.
“[Participating] was a nice way to celebrate my culture and to see how other people represent their own cultures,” said Aroshi. She encourages students to attend the culture shows hosted by student organizations throughout the year.
“I feel like it’s a great way to get to know the community,” she said.
Ghaith and Merchant both described seeing the beginning of the show and the enthusiasm of the large audience, as well as time spent with the Slater e-board after the show, sharing food, taking photos and thanking everyone for their work, as highlights of the night.
Ghaith joined Slater during her second year, as a Middle East and North Africa representative alongside Natalie Ayoub ’23, current vice president, and hopes that, through events like the Culture Show, they can continue the welcoming environment they found there. “Being an international student can sometimes feel … alienating, so having that community of people who know what you’re going through, where you’re all supporting each other, seemed really nice to me when I joined,” said Ghaith. “I wanted to continue fostering that environment … It made me feel so much more at home here.”
Merchant felt inspired seeing the Slater e-board, performers and audience members come together to share in the final event. “The… aim of the culture show was to try and showcase the amalgamation of diverse cultures that we have at Wellesley and how powerful the appreciation of different cultures can be … these cultures coming together and interacting with each other can just be so beautiful… we hope that that was conveyed,” said Merchant.