URBANA – The largest cultural showcase at the University of Illinois will once again grace campus Saturday night.
Culture Shock, which takes place at 7 p.m. in Illini Union Rooms A, B and C and the Courtyard Cafe, is a multicultural celebration with eclectic performances, international food and information from a variety of cultural organizations on campus. The annual free program features more than 24 student performances, 16 booth presenters and 40 volunteers. In 2002, the event had an attendance record of nearly 3,000 people.
"It's definitely the biggest cultural event on campus," said Lance Wright, program adviser for the Illini Union Board. "There is a real commitment to getting as many different performances into one night as we can."
The board co-sponsors the showcase with the registered student organization Together Encouraging the Appreciation of Multiculturalism.
Planning for the Saturday's show began directly after the February 2003 event. The Culture Shock committee came up with menu items, organized advertisements and gave classroom presentations to students, all working within a $5,500 budget.
The Student Organization Resource Fee, a refundable charge levied to UI students to pay for campus activities and programs, helped fund the event, as well as the Illini Union Board and various organizations taking part in Culture Shock
Auditions were held in November for some of the performances. Wright said auditions are not standard every year, but the committee decided it was necessary for the new 2004 acts. Event Committee Chair Anjali Jariwala said groups that previously performed in Culture Shock didn't need to audition.
"We knew their quality of work," she said.
Also, the committee wanted to avoid overlapping acts. In its fifth year, the show added an Argentinian tango group and a local break dancing and spinning crew. The two groups will teach the audience some moves after their performances in the Courtyard Cafe. All the acts got together and practiced Thursday night in full costume.
"We want to make sure on Saturday that the show runs as smoothly as possible. If there are any technical difficulties, we will get it cleared during dress rehearsals," Jariwala said.
Jariwala attended last year for the first time, serving as the master of ceremonies. She was impressed by the 60-member Philippine Student Association act, which featured lifting up a woman and balancing her in the air on bamboo sticks.
Jariwala advises first-time Culture Clash goers not to be passive onlookers. She suggested trying new foods, participating in activities and circulating around the Illini Union to meet new people and learn new cultures.
You can reach Ernst Lamothe Jr. at (217) 351-5223 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.