Monthly Archives: November 2018

Angolan Culture Night

Last Friday, November 9th, was Angolan Culture Night at Jim Thorpe Multicultural Center. One of my good friends is from Angola, and was helping set up and coordinate the event.  Pedro was busy, so I didn’t get to see or talk to him until the end of the night. But I am really glad that I went.

First, one of my friends who I haven’t seen since freshman year was there. He was a senior when I was a freshman, and he was also an RA in Walker Tower where I lived. He wasn’t my RA, but we were good friends. We sort of lost touch after he graduated, so I was really surprised and happy to see him.

Secondly, all of the acts were really great. The first performance was a love song by a student named Futura. And he had an amazing voice. The song was well suited to his range, but also, even though it was sung in a local language, it was beautiful to listen to. I found myself really wanting to sing along, but obviously I didn’t know the words. He also really knew how to work the room. He walked from the stage and through the aisles and tables like a singer on a cruise ship. It was really cool, and I think I’m going to try to find that song for my own playlists.

There was also a traditional/contemporary mashup dance, Portuguese song on the ukelele, a fashion show, and a trivia game about Angola’s history, geography and culture. Then the MC’s took some time to acknowledge that not all of the people who worked to put the night together were from Angola but that lots of African student came together to celebrate the upcoming anniversary of Angolan Independence. For instance, one of the MCs was from Mozambique.
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Angolan Independence was a multi-national affair in many ways. Not only did the US, Cuba, and Russia have skin in the game during the actual war and the political circus that followed, but after securing independence, Angolans went to South Africa and fought for their independence as well. As one of the dancers pointed out, the fallout is only just starting to settle, for while independence was achieved 44 years ago, the civil war stemming from different political ideologies/parties only ended 16 years ago.

The final act was a dance by the Angolan dance crew which won Eve of Nations last year, which I missed because I was studying abroad. But it was cool to see the dances, and afterward, everyone was invited to dance. It really was a cool night and a good time, and if I could improve on one thing, it would be that more people should have come out to experience it.

Día De Los Muertos

Last Sunday, I left work early to go to the Día de los Muertos street fair. It was in the Lloyd Noble parking lot, which is right by my apartment. So not only was it fun, but it was also convenient.

Día de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday, which actually is a multi-day holiday. It actually originated from an Aztec tradition, and it didn’t begin as a fall holiday, but after Mexico was colonized by catholic Spain, the holiday slowly migrated toward October 31 to coincide with All-Saint’s-Eve. The point of Día de los Muertos is to remember and honor loved ones and ancestors who have passed away. People build ofrendas, kind of like little alters, with candles, marigolds, crucifixes and photos of deceased family members.

A lot of traditional Día de los Muertos traditions have migrated to other parts of the world, brought along with Mexican emigrants. In the US, Día de los Muertos is not a national holiday, but it has become a cultural event–especially in states near the border like Texas and Oklahoma.

I’d never been to the festival. I was slightly surprised by how many people came to the Lloyd Noble event. I expected a big turn out, but I expected it to be mostly students. But there were so many people from Norman, Moore, and I even met a couple from OKC. It was also a lot bigger than I thought it would be. I expected food trucks and craft tables, like the events that we hold on the South Oval. But there was a huge stage where several bilingual performances took place, an eating area, and a few carnival rides.

I wandered around, got some street tacos and took photos. Unfortunately I was too poor to buy some of the art that caught my eye, like the handmade dreamcatchers. But I had a great time, and this kind of event is definitely something I’d seek out in the future.

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OU Cousins – S’more Night

This year is my last year as a member of OU Cousins. I have always liked participating in this group. I like meeting new people and helping other students feel welcome at OU. OU Cousins is a group where a lot of different people find themselves, even the OU students who participate are pretty diverse, from all different majors and backgrounds.

Because I’m doing an Honors research paper, and taking a full course load, and working, and preparing for the LSAT and applying for law schools, I haven’t had a lot of free time to devote to OU Cousins. Not like I want to anyway. But this week I invited a friend from work to go to the S’more Night event. He also likes meeting new people and learning about other cultures. Both of us studied abroad last semester so we know what it’s like to be in a new country for school.

 

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I think that my experience as an exchange student myself really gave me another perspective on OU Cousins. When I was in France, I would have been totally lost without my UCA “cousin” Carole. She spoke English and French, so she really helped me enroll and find out where my classes were. I think we don’t have as much language utility here, just because the majority of the American population is monolingual, so we might not be able to go back and forth and be a liaison for our cousins in the traditional sense, like Carole was for me. But I still was able to realize the impact that OU Cousins can have for international students.

My OU cousin for this year hasn’t really been in contact, but I still think that this organization does important work that doesn’t feel like work. Like with my OU Cousin last year, Céline, it just felt like friendship. That’s really what’s important.