Multicultural sorority Mu Sigma Upsilon hosted yet another one of their successful events celebrating diversity and inclusion from all walks of life, called Recognizing and Celebrating Ethnicities (R.A.C.E) on the evening of Monday, April 16, 2018. Known as the first multicultural sorority in the nation and a founding member of the National Multicultural Greek Council (NMGC), this night was another showcase of the sorority's morals representing uniqueness and pride in every cultures and ethnicity stretching across the globe.
The night highlighted the theme "beauty in diversity" throughout its duration, commemorating a variety of cultures and backgrounds through performances, games and arts and craft sections for all to enjoy.
From 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., a celebration of the multitudinous customs around the world were depicted in the event's theme, which centered around the sorority acting as if it were an airline service, taking the visitors to the ends of the earth while taking pit stops at each of the seven continents and the many countries within them.
Hosted by Giselle Torres, a sister and advisor for the multicultural sorority, the doors to Downs Hall opened at approximately 6:30 p.m. as sisters from Mu Sigma Upsilon, draped in their colors of baby blue and white, filled a majority of the seats in the room. As tickets were checked and Student ID's were swiped, students were accompanied by the vibrant sounds of Kevin Alvarado, or DJ Kev for short. He kept the party going by playing popular songs that the students and older members of the Kean family recognized throughout the night.
Inside of Downs Hall, small, blue and white balloons were chained to the backs of small, black plastic chairs adjacent to plastic tables with more blue and white draping that made a pattern on the Downs Hall Floor. As soon as the night's audiences were checked in, a long table dressed in powder blue had brochures about the event with "R.A.C.E." plastered on the top of them. Next to the brochures were small, navy blue passport writing pads to further make the attendees feel as if they were boarding a plane to fly around the world.
Before the night's guests took their seats, their attention was driven toward the pre-show activities the event had to offer. Seven stations complete with arts and craft activities captured the essence of Mu Sigma Upsilon’s airplane-esque theme for their annual event. Seven Arts and craft stations on tables were designed to look like the order of the world’s continents, and each person visiting the stations felt like they were subtly traveling to each one.
The smell of food from a plethora of the world's cultures were in the distance as another long table to the left of Downs Hall was ready to serve the onlookers. Sounds of DJ Kev's beats infused with mingling and games of Tinikling sticks, a game similar to double dutch, were heard from afar. Dancing and singing from those who took their seats waiting for introductions to begin were heard as well. To kickoff the night, Torres informed everyone to take their seats, for the first performance of the night was ready to begin.
First up was a cultural tribute to the North American nation of Nicaragua. Genesis Algaba danced to a signature piece highlighting the African influence on the culture, earning her a gracious round of applause. A bright yellow dress moved with fluidity as she danced with the sounds of traditional Nicaraguan instruments and drums, making the crowd feel as though they had been transported to the Latin country.
Next up, Mu Airlines took a trip to North Jersey to hear the rhymes of rapper Onnist, who delivered another of his original sounds for the audience to hear. Then, two sisters of Latin sorority Chi Upsilon Sigma did a signature salute and stroll along with some upbeat music to accompany them. Shortly after, the night's host, Giselle Torres read a passage about diversity and its importance in today's society, as all of the attendees keenly listened.
"The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences," Torres said. "These can be along the definitions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical ability, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies."
Torres continued, "It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive and nurturing environment that embraces diversity. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity unchanged with each individual."
Torres then invited lyricist and spoken word poet Eric Shandroff onto the stage, who went by his rapper name of "MysterE". While performing a piece honoring the multicultural theme of the night, the artist made it interactive and trotted through the crowd, while utilizing rhymes and wordplay as he went along. As this was his first time performing at the R.A.C.E. event, the spoken word artist commended the night's theme, which made his performance topic that much more enjoyable.
"These kind of events are important! We need to get different cultures to come and unite and see what the other cultures are about without just judging them in passing, but seeing what they have to offer, whether it be through performances or speaking to one another. It is needed," Shandroff said.
Throughout the night, more artistic performances showcasing singing, rapping and dancing captivated the audience. Singers like Mia Florival, who sang her own rendition of "What a Wonderful World" as well as a self-written piece caught the eyes and ears of those in attendance, as she was met with gracious applause. Other performances included the likes of the new initiates to Mu Sigma Upsilon, as they were escorted to the stage by Torres herself while reciting their sorority's esteemed salute.
The audience was then treated to some fiery Latin ballroom dancing from the likes of Allison Lopez and a dance partner who both put on an amazing show. Torres then took the stage back to its hip hop roots, inviting Kean alumni, Alec Dailey, a rapper who went by the name "Arte Magnus". He performed two of his original songs to the crowd amidst claps and synonymous cheers throughout the audience. Neeve Brosler, an Irish dancer, then made her way to the front of the audience, tap-dancing to an Irish folk song that got the attention of everyone in the room, earning her the same amount of love that all of the performers got that night.
The final two performances of the night featured Allison Lopez's second trip to the stage and this time, a solo dance honoring the country of Peru was complete with a vivid outfit and traditional music in which she frolicked and jumped for joy. The final performance of the night belonged to a dancer from Kean Musical Movements, whose movement coincided to the sounds of the Caribbean in a powerful hip hop dance tribute to the islands.
To finish off the night, two sisters of the sorority, Sarena and Cara, had a birthday, and, promptly, the entire audience joined together to sing "Happy Birthday" to the two! In the event's closing, everyone was treated to birthday cake and a large dance party, featuring a "Cha-Cha Slide" and a "Cupid Shuffle".
Jailene Burgos, a senior communications major, the active president of the sorority and one of the main coordinators of the night, was not only extremely impressed by the night's turnout, but overtly proud of how fulfilling it was to see it all come together for yet another year.
"It is amazing and very rewarding to see the end product and see everybody get involved and learn about different cultures all while having fun," Burgos said. "Each year gets better and better, and this year, we added a bunch of activities to focus on the different continents that we have, because normally we just had performances and this time we wanted to up the ante a little bit. We got the crowd more engaged and more involved."
For more information on Mu Sigma Upsilon and their upcoming events this semester, visit their official Cougar Link page. Also, feel free to check out more pictures from the event in the Photo Album above.