By Emma Harwood
Before January 22nd, the seventh floor was nothing more than just your average, overcrowded cafeteria serving public school lunches on styrofoam trays. It had always been a place where students took respite from their rigorous schedules to socialize, but how much do we really know about the people around us? Last Friday, I took a trip around the world in that same place so many of us Brooklyn Tech students loathe on sight. At 4 pm, the Council of Student Activities opened the cafeteria doors, welcoming both students and staff to a kaleidoscope of cultures. The lingering smells of school lunch were quickly replaced by a fragrant cuisines. Students ditched their school clothes for a more traditional garb and they stood proudly by their posters and booths, eager to share detailed snapshots of the customs of people all over the globe.
Sidratul Muntaha, the chairperson of the Culture Fair, dedicated much of her own time and commitment into making this a great event, and great it was. Muntaha, class of 2018, says, “To put it simply I feel it’s important to the Tech community because we get to observe and learn about the many different cultures of our peers. Tech is a very big school with a very big student body of such diverse backgrounds, and the culture fair intends on showcasing some if not most of those cultures.”
Everything we have learned about the cultures residing in our very community have been a mile wide and an inch deep, and just as Muntaha said, the culture fair was the opportunity for Brooklyn Tech to explore and celebrate the similarities, and the differences, among their peers on a much more intimate level.
The heart of the culture fair came about halfway through, when the event coordinator summoned everyone to gather around a spacious area roped off for performers from various clubs and extracurricular groups. Hundreds of students crammed into the very narrow center section of our cafeteria, peering between shoulders or hopping on a friend’s back out of desperation to get a better look. The Lady Dragons step team started off the performance with a boom as they marched into formation, synchronizing every step and movement, never missing a beat. Tech students watched in awe as their peers took the dance floor, flaunting their talents. We saw incredibly beautiful performances from the Bollywood Dance Club, listened to familiar pop songs sung by The Trio, and admired Organized Chaos as they stepped in unison. The grand finale came with a Chinese dragon dance by the BTHS Dragon Boat Club. The sense of community radiated off everybody as students gathered to celebrate the many cultures that make up the diverse fabric of our student body.
Joycie Zhan, the second chairperson of the event, felt the Culture Fair was something that brought students together despite the pervasive discrimination and battles with racism that have been plaguing our school.
Zhan notes, “Especially with the #blackinbrooklyntech going around, there were so many tensions and honestly, I know that most people in Tech have at one point felt discriminated and looked down upon due to their ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, and so on and although the Culture Fair was targeted at displaying the cultural diversity of Tech, it encompasses so many other things. It might not have seen that way but that was how I saw the Culture Fair and how several people who went saw it as well so in that sense, the Culture Fair was an important event for the Tech community.”
In a school with so many students and faculty members, it’s easy to sit next to someone in the cafeteria, walk by a peer in the hallway, or share a class with a friend, knowing little to nothing about who they are or where they come from. Learning about and appreciating other cultures is vital to our understanding of the world. The fair, while it may seem it only encompassed a microcosm of cultures in the grand scheme of the world, gave Brooklyn Tech students a new lens from which to view society, those around them, and their place within it. A huge thank you to those who made the Culture Fair possible and everyone who participated in it.
Dragon Boat Club
Bollywood Dance Club
“I’ve been dancing since I was really young so I was planning on going to a performing arts school for high school. Due to circumstances, I was stuck in Brooklyn Tech. When I got to the school, I saw that nobody was into the arts and was very bitter about it my entire freshman year. People told me to start a club since I was really good at it, but I always shied away from the idea and did solo dancing on my own. During junior year of high school this girl messaged me on Facebook asking me if i wanted to join her dance club and I decided hey why not? I ended up with the position of vice president. It was the Brooklyn Tech’s first ever choreography club, and it was really fun at the beginning, but it was a clash of styles and I realized that I wanted to focus on just one specific style. When senior year came, I decided I wanted to start a club of my own focused on Bollywood dance and so far it’s going great. It’s nice being around people that try just as hard for a passion as you do.”
-Aniqa Hossain, Class of 2016
Organized C.H.A.O.S and Lady Dragons
“I joined the step team because I saw Organized Chaos performing at the club fair and they had a different energy. They were doing synchronized dancing, being very precise, making these beats where all of these things were happening yet they still looked like they were having a blast and doing all of this hard stuff as if it was second nature. The best part of being on the step team is the family you form. Practicing with my brothers everyday and collectively putting our literal blood, sweat, and tears into something is really amazing.”
-Oliver Wiener, Class of 2019
“The trio is made up of people who have a passion for music and we have fun making music together. Outside of this music trio, we’re great friends who always have a good laugh and when we’re making music, it’s just a really fun experience because not only are we making music for others to enjoy, but we’re also having this experience together. The trio was a last minute thing but this last minute thing turned into something everyone wanted to see more of and that’s what makes this whole thing so interesting.”
-Carina Tan, Class of 2018
African American Culture Club
Photos by Emma Harwood