Culture; it is the very essence of who we are. The very tide that binds a person to their place of origin, it is a key part of our overall makeup. From national food to cultural wear, each of its components plays a key role in the shaping of our day to day lifestyles and the formulation of our individual identities. USC, like any other place, is not exempt from the influence of this phenomenon.
In fact, the institution serves as a melting pot of cultural diversity. Every year, such diversity is put on display in the week of activities referred to as International Students Week. The event seeks to capture the very spirit of the university by showcasing the various faces which make up its general population, through the various cultural clubs on campus.
This year’s event was run under the theme “USC Ansanm: Unity in Adversity”.
Ansanm (A-sum), a French Creole word meaning “together”, suitably captured the mood set for this year’s festivities. The theme was selected in retrospect of the recent events which rocked the islands during the past few months. Hurricanes battered and bruised the likes of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and the Virgin Islands, in what had been the worst season in decades. For many of the students, these storms literally hit home as they were forced to pick up the pieces left by the mayhem. The idea was to showcase how the region could be united in spite of the obvious turmoil present.
The week got off to an absolute flyer as the administration car park played host to an array of booths, each representing a different cultural club, each of which was aptly decorated to showcase the unique culture of that particular group. As well as some fun facts about the various destinations, each club treated the public with a taste of cuisine typical of that specific group of people, adding flavour.
On Wednesday, students took part in the annually held Parade of Nations. The atmosphere was dense with sound as the various groups lifted their voices, declaring in unwavering fashion the greatness of their various clubs. Chants could be heard from all across the campus, drawing out crowds of onlookers in vast numbers. It was truly a sight to behold.
For the first time in its history, the week of activities also included a pageant, suitably dubbed “Mr and Mrs Culture USC”. Contestants from each of the clubs (one male, one female) sought to showcase what exactly each of their territories had on offer through oral presentation, cultural wear, and various talents, presenting themselves as poster children for the greatness which the region can produce.
The week’s events culminated in a grand night of cultural display. Never before had the atmosphere in the school’s auditorium been quite like this. The noise was almost deafening and the ambience altogether hair-raising. As pageant contestants made their final appearances showcasing their cultural wear and talents for one final time, it was quite certain that the final decision would be a difficult one. After a long deliberation (with an amazing light show during the intermission), the results were finally in. “Mr and Ms Culture USC 2017” went to the dynamic duo from the Republic of Guyana, with St. Lucia reclaiming the coveted “Best Booth” award.
In retrospect, if the week’s events taught us anything at all, it would be the power of togetherness. The bonding that occurred amidst the heartache and pain simply displayed the grit and determination we have as a collective, altogether showcasing the true power of true “Uscianism”, the culture of us.