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Penn's United Minorities Council (UMC) and the Class of 2024 board co-hosted a "Celebration of Cultures" event on Mar. 20, 2023 in Houston Hall. This year, the UMC and the Class of 2027 board held the annual intercultural fair event on Feb. 28. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

Penn's United Minorities Council co-hosted their annual intercultural fair event with the Class of 2027 board on Feb. 28 in Houston Hall.

The fair, which ran from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., aimed to celebrate the rich cultural diversity on Penn's campus. It featured performances by over 20 cultural groups on campus and booths offering activities and food.

Established in 1978, UMC aims to amplify the voices of minorities within Penn's campus by fostering a coalition of minority student organizations. Last year, UMC organized an event known as “Unity Week” to commemorate the diverse cultures represented on campus. This year, UMC and the Class of ‘27 Board combined many of the various activities typically spread throughout the week, including the performances and the food showcase, into one night.

The cultural fair featured a diverse array of foods from around the globe alongside student group performances. Attendees could choose dishes from countries such as India, Thailand, and Azerbaijan. Some dishes provided included butter chicken and pani puri from India and Pad See Ew and curry from Thailand. 

Students were also given an opportunity to learn more about each culture through engaging in activities like Jeopardy and Trivia. For example, in order to receive a treat and stamp from a certain booth, students would have to answer a challenging trivia question about a particular country or culture. 

Each student was given a passport, and if they obtained stamps from two countries in each continent, they were given a free t-shirt. 

“It was really great to immerse myself in different cultures through an exciting food-tasting experience," Engineering first-year Maria Ramos said. "I also really wanted to try food from cultures that my friends are a part of.”

Complementing the booth exhibitions were performances by various groups specializing in the fine arts, including Penn Sargam, Penn Taekwondo, Penn Karate, and Penn Atma. Penn Sargam and Penn Atma delivered performances showcasing elements of Indian heritage, while Penn Taekwondo and Penn Karate displayed their talents in the realm of martial arts. 

When asked about the logistics of booth hosting, the students expressed that the organization was very straightforward and efficient. 

"It was pretty easy logistically to host a booth," College junior Mishael Majeed said. "All the materials we needed were ordered, and all we had to do was set up the booth itself before the event."

Majeed, who managed the Penn Pakistan Society table, organized activities such as henna and posters offering informational insights about her cultural heritage.

College sophomore Nikolai Jawiyuga Curtis, who oversaw the Natives at Penn booth, taught several students about his culture through interactive activities like basket weaving and educational discussions on the prevalence of indigenous communities in America. 

"I loved seeing students learn about all the cultural groups on campus," Curtis said. "I kept hearing people say 'I didn't even know this group existed' while visiting all the booths, so it was great to hear people learning more about the different cultures on their campus."