Celebrating Cultural Diversity

Monday, February 24, 2014

Shruti Singh '14, front left in blue, has introduced Trinity students to the South Asian culture through dance performances at Diwali.

Students perform at Diwali, the festival of lights—one of the many diverse, cultural performances that happen annually on campus.

by Jeanna Goodrich Balreira '08

Ask Shruti Singh about the smile on her face during her Diwali performance, and she’ll tell you it was due in part to the huge number of people in the crowd. “We have had more people participate in Diwali as well as attend the event since I took the leadership position [of the Asian Sub-continental Association] three years ago,” she says. "It makes us feel good about the work we are doing!"

Diwali, also called the "festival of lights," is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year. Traditionally, the festival involves dressing up in new clothes and lighting diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside homes; but at Trinity, the celebration of Diwali culminates in an all-campus event and performance hosted by the Asian Sub-continental Association (ASA) and the Hindu Student Union (HSU).

Including ASA and HSU, there are more than a dozen different cultural organizations on campus. Students are encouraged to find a place that feels like home—or to branch out and experience cultures vastly different from their own. From Diwali to Mocha Life and from the Lunar New Year celebration to the Mabuhay Festival, students plan, organize, and perform at cultural events annually. They find a taste of home and of far-away places at the Taste of Diversity, a food tasting event sponsored by the Trinity Diversity Connection; they practice Spanish or German on the couches in the University Center during language club meetings.

"Being involved in ASA has given me the opportunity to meet new people and build lifelong friendships that I would not have found otherwise," Singh says. "I’ve gained new perspectives on many different global issues."

An engineering science senior who has called Thailand home for the past 18 years, Singh notes that her involvement in organizations benefits more than just her social and cultural life. "I have enhanced my communication and interpersonal skills and learned to manage my time between academics and extracurricular activities more efficiently," she says.

Yet, let’s not forget the most colorful, vibrant benefit—the dancing! "Through Diwali, I was able to introduce different people to the South Asian culture through dance performances or by attending the show," Singh says. "My favorite part of planning Diwali has always been working with different groups of people."

Jeanna Goodrich Balreira is the associate director for creative communication in University Marketing Communications. She is a 2008 Trinity graduate.