Spring cultural festival brings campus together

Food and music highlighted the event

By Kasandra Arreola / Times Staff
Students gathered around for tropical-flavored shaved ice on SJCC’s campus on Wednesday, April 19th.

Cheerful faces were seen all around as San Jose City College hosted its yearly cultural festival on April 19, with various ethnic and cultural minorities celebrating their heritage. Many different religious and culturally significant traditions were celebrated, including Burmese holiday Thingyan and the Islamic observance Eid, which were given the spotlight.

While some students, such as Kiana Bakrani and Brian Castillo stated that they mostly enjoyed the food and the watersports available for students to partake in, others like Students Worldwide Association President Shana Siddik emphasized the importance of building community amongst immigrant students.

“For most international students, it’s really difficult to move from your home country and study abroad when you’re all alone in this big country,” Siddik said. “It’s really nice to have a community where you could sort of relate or empathize with other international students.”

Director of Student Activities Blake Balajada acknowledged the value for international students, but also insisted that the festival was just as valuable for local students, calling it a great “…opportunity to encounter” cultures and cuisines that would be otherwise unfamiliar.

Students Worldwide Association Vice President Joell Serrano, who said he helped with the logistics of helping the event run smoothly, felt that events like these can potentially be very uplifting to everyone’s on-campus experience.

“I really believe if we have more events and activities on-campus and create more of an inclusive environment, students will feel more comfortable, and want to be on campus longer, and stay for longer and enjoy their time beyond the classroom,” Serrano said.

Serrano added that international students are a valuable part of the campus community, and that allowing them to share their heritage and culture can help them feel more connected to other students.

“Everyone wants to be seen and heard and to be shown how they’re valuable,” Serrano said. “[International students are] not just numbers. They’re individuals with unique experiences that can provide unique perspectives that anyone can learn from.”