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Culture Night Preparations Underway: New Clubs Debut While Returning Clubs Rekindle Their Cultural Fire

Culture Night 2024 is shaping up to be a unique one as various clubs prepare to introduce new performances related to their culture. The highly anticipated annual event that promotes cultural diversity and worldwide peace takes place on March 13, at 7:00 pm and March 15 at 8:00 pm. Among the many clubs set to welcome new dances are the Latin America and Filipino clubs, whilst the Rotuma and Golden Mecca clubs make their debut performance at the event.

The Rise of Rotumans — Rotuma Club

The Rotuma Club represents the island of Rotuma, a Fijian dependency located in the central Pacific. While the people of Rotuma are Fijian in nationality, they have unique cultures and practices that set them apart from their fellow Fijian cousins.

Couple wearing cultural attire that represents the island nation of Rotuma.

The club president, Malcolm Timoteo, states that the choreography of their Culture Night 2024 performance is not a traditional dance but a contemporary one that keeps with the authenticity of Rotuma and its culture. “The men will move a lot, and you’ll see a lot of low squats and some elbows and fists up while hopping back and forth, and the women have more graceful movements, mostly dancing in place with gentle motions. All of us do this while we’re having fun.” Timoteo explains, emphasizing that good vibes provide an entertaining performance.

After Culture Night, Timoteo—now a senior—hopes that the Rotuma Club will continue on. He says that his hope is for the club “to provide a safe space for members to become true disciples of Jesus Christ while sharing the beautiful culture of Rotuma. I believe that Rotuma is just one of the many small and hidden gems in the South Pacific.”

“Rare Like Gold” — The Golden Mecca Club

The Golden Mecca Club represents the countries of the Middle East, covering the countries of Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, and the various states and territories of Arabia proper—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. The club’s title comes from these countries' rich, thick, and diverse cultural backgrounds, making them “rare like gold.”

As a transfer student from BYU, the club president, Elisabeth Jaleh Younessian, witnessed Culture Night for the first time in 2023 and was inspired to create the club because of the event’s captivating performances. “I hope that people see us and that they know the beauty of the Middle East.”

Female students dancing in a line with arms raised.

For its Culture Night performance, the club aims to shed light on their countries’ cultures. Regarding the countries represented in their upcoming dance, Younessian adds that the order of the dances they’re performing represent “Persia or Iran (a delicate dance focused on beauty and love), Egypt (a historical dance rooted in tradition), Afghanistan (a social dance with partners), and then the very end will have a sort of Arabic mix where all of them will be dancing together. It’s basically three sections and then a collective dance.”

Although the Golden Mecca Club is in its sophomore semester, Younessian hopes that a successor will be chosen before she graduates to keep the legacy of the club moving forward.

Return of the Crowd-Pleasers

Culture Night 2024 wouldn’t be complete without the return of crowd-pleasing performances from clubs with high memberships, such as the Latin America and Filipino clubs.

The Latin America Club, led by club president Alan Pineda, aims to represent two countries for Culture Night 2024: Mexico and Peru. “We work with what we have, and seeing that we go to school in Oceania, a majority of our club members reside from these two countries,” Pineda says, explaining the choice of countries in their performance. But that’s not all. Pineda adds, “We’re also doing the bachata dance, which encompasses a lot of Latin American cultures, a singing number, and a finale featuring urban songs related to our club’s cultures.”

Couple wearing cultural attire to represent the Latin America club.

“Our hope is for the world to see the unity that can be seen in Latinos and Latinas and the big familia that we are. Whether you’re in America, Europe, or Asia… if you have a bit of Latino in your blood, we want to express that your heritage matters through our performance,” Pineda said, emphasizing the ‘united’ aspect of their upcoming performance.

The Filipino Club, now led by club president Hannah Pearl Tumon, has a mission for Culture Night 2024 that relies on representing the country’s three main geographical island divisions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The performance, titled “LUZVIMINDA,” is divided into four parts, namely the Pandanggo sa Ilaw; a folk dance full of lights representing Luzon, the Tuna Festival; an oceanic sea dance representing Mindanao, the Kabataan Bag-ong Katilingban Song; an original vibrant pop music dance representing Visayas and sung in the Cebuano language, and finally, a concluding community dance titled “I Love Pinas.”

Filipino club practice depicting dozens of students practicing a dance.

The club’s Culture Night director, Shinehah Remion, hopes to achieve “a true showcase of Filipino culture.” She adds that the members are hard at work “seeking to aim for authenticity by using materials shipped in from the Philippines and costumes that perfectly represent what it means to be Filipino.”

The stage is set, and anticipation fills the air as Culture Night 2024 promises to be an unforgettable celebration of diversity and unity weaved together by the university’s mission to mold disciples of Jesus Christ. As new clubs debut and returning favorites dazzle, many other clubs are ready to perform next week for a performance unlike any other. Culture Night awaits, so don’t miss it.