[By GRACE LOH]
Who would have thought I would spend my Friday night on campus? Well, it was either World Fest 2014 or the company of my assignments- and I obviously opted for the former.
Quite frankly, I have never really shown any interest in the events Taylor’s has to offer. Don’t get me wrong, I love the university. However, I speak through past experiences when I say I have minimal faith in most events happening on campus.
Heading to World Fest 2014, to say I had no expectations would be an awful lie. Indeed I expected to see what has been boasted about for weeks by the organizing committee, Taylor’s University International Student Council (TUISC). The buzzed-about event promised guests multicultural performances, foreign cuisine and a myriad of culture, so I was told.
The night began with the usual evening thunderstorm, not exactly the weather everyone was hoping for, but that didn’t dampen everyone’s spirit. Outside the Grand Hall, people were buzzing with excitement as they waited to enter the event venue. It’s not every night you catch your university mates and yourself decked out in their best suit or dress. Within a 10 step radius, I could see flashes going off in all directions. Guess it was time for a “selfie”!
Upon entering the hall, one thing that really took my breath away was the décor. The pale white hall was instantly transformed into a spectacle with red and black flowy cloth cascading across the ceiling and flashing red and blue star-shaped strobe lights. Somehow the first thing the colour scheme reminded me of was 4th of July, the American Independence Day, which was probably a coincidence.
For the most part, World Fest 2014 did live up to its hype. I was actually thoroughly impressed. Here’s a breakdown of some moments of the night:
Greatest Surprise: The amount of nationalism each cultural group of students presented at the event was just astonishing. The crowd roared as they proudly cheered for the performers that represented their homelands. Though no performance had a bigger crowd reaction than the Mauritian performance. A three-man drum piece started playing at the side of the stage to some infectious island beats, while out of nowhere, a huge mob of people gathered at the back of the hall led by someone waving the Mauritian flag. As the drum beats got heavier, the crowd got larger. Ladies dressed in the Mauritian national costume swayed onto the stage. Soon everyone was charging to the front of the hall right before the stage, dancing and jumping to the beat, forming their own celebration of youth and culture. The energy level was much like a 30 Seconds to Mars concert, and that speaks a lot!
Greatest Downfall: Oh, the food. The whole night could have been perfect had it not been for this factor. I was really looking forward to channel my inner Andrew Zimmern, anticipating the chance to taste some foreign delicacies. Instead guests were fed with local cuisine, such as Tosai, Char Kuey Teow and Ice Kacang, food that I could easily find at any shop around the corner. Certainly not impressed.
Greatest Highlight: Hands-down the performances made it all worthwhile. There was so much heart, soul and passion these performers exuded, it completely blew my mind. They kept everyone grooving and some rose from their seats to form their own dance party. Each cultural group gave their own unique performance highlighting the culture of their country. My favourite act had to be the Afro-shakers. A group of girls representing many of the African nations, they put Beyoncé and her “bootylicious” moves to shame. The ladies did a throw-down of hip-shaking, bottom-popping moves to some infectious African drum-driven tunes. They ultimately won the audience’s hearts and the title of “Best Performance” of the night.
Greatest Relief: Taylor’s residential emcees Adam and Melissa took to the stage with Melissa’s witty humour constantly remarking on Adam’s ridiculously hilarious demeanour. I have seen them many times on stage in the past, knowing they really make a good emcee tag-team. No doubt their presence reassured that there will never be a dull moment throughout the night.
Greatest Fashion Moment: Looking into a sea of people during the cocktail reception all donning traditional outfits, each representing their individual countries ever so proudly. It felt like the Met Ball for the multicultural. Individuals were spotted with the “saree”, “shapan”, “abaya” and someone even wore a “dishdasha”. Anna Wintour would be very proud.
A celebration of people and culture, kudos to Taylor’s University International Student Council for organizing this multicultural fiesta! The effort invested into the preparation of World Fest clearly resonated in that night’s success. Although the odds were not in my favour that night during each lucky draw, I have to say I took away something even greater. The amount of experience and knowledge from these different cultural groups, who graciously shared their practices and art with everyone who attended, was priceless. I’m just glad I was part of it.