Culturescape is Redefining School Spirit

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Vitality SF’s Mia Santor and Zachary Jorin. WILLIAM WIN/FOGHORN

“Now, let our flight around the world begin!” the night’s host Zena Jaber (also a student) bellowed into her mic, drawing a roar of cheers, whistles and claps from an eager crowd during the 2018 “Culturescape” event on Nov. 9.

“Culturescape,” an annual event presented by the USF International Students Association (ISA), features the school’s most talented cultural groups, including dance ensembles, choirs and other organizations. ISA has had a presence on USF’s campus for more than 30 years — so it’s no surprise they would throw one of the best events of the year.

With a night split into two segments, “Culturescape” explored different cultures in two of the best ways — performance and cuisine. Starting off the night in Presentation Theater, the audience was treated to performances by USF Classical Choral Ensemble, ASUSF Treble Voices, Hawaiian Ensemble, USF Ballroom and Latin Dance Class, USF Raftaar Indian Student Org, Kasamahan, Vitality SF and VarCity SF.

Presentation Theater could have been confused with a sports stadium from the way the audience reacted to the performances. Performers’ movements were often followed by screams of excitement from the crowd, such as the arrangement of the grass-skirted Hawaiian Ensemble, or when Raftaar Indian Student Org lined up in a quick snap of a multiple-armed figure to mimic that of a Hindu deity, Shiva Nataraja. A student in the crowd who came to see her friend perform in VarCity said, “I loved the Latin dancers — they reminded me of how we dance back home.”

Following the performances, guests and performers headed to McLaren, where nine local restaurants served cuisine representing cultures from all corners of the world. This included the Russian Cinderella Bakery (on Sixth Ave. and Balboa St.) and the Filipino Fil-Am Cuisine (in Daly City).

Vitality and VarCity dancer Jennifer Otsuki, a senior, said, “I strategically eat light the day of ‘Culturescape’ so I can try as much food as possible… but I’d say the har grow (the shrimp dumpling dim sum dish) [was my favorite].”

Culturescape made me think about how USF has been regarded as an “unspirited” school. Events like this show just how spirited we are. It’s just different from how the majority of universities in the country measure and define spirit.

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