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CultureFest rained out


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By Sydney Murray




As students were scattered inside Woodburn Hall to escape the downpour, Sandy Britton, associate director for Student Life at the Office of International Services, and her team passed out treats.

“This is for them,” Britton said. “We are safe indoors. A lot of students didn’t get anything.”

Britton has been involved with CultureFest for nine of its 13 years and this is the first time she has worked that the event has been cancelled due to weather.

“It’s too bad, but that’s what happens when you have outdoor events,” she said. “It’s a wonderful event and a good way to welcome all the students.”

Junior Rubia Hagans, a transfer student, said she was hoping to experience her first CultureFest. It was cancelled before she even arrived.

“I’m bummed it’s cancelled,” she said, adding that she was looking forward to “diving into culture.”

Freshman Julie Rogers said she didn’t get the opportunity to experience much of the event.

“We didn’t get to, like, really do anything,” she said. “We still have all our tickets.”

Staff kept students alerted, telling them the storm hadn’t passed. As time passed, the crowd dwindled.

Before CultureFest was cancelled, many students attended the event.

Campus groups set up tents to promote their groups. The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Student Support Services office handed out rainbow sherbet ice cream and Campus Religious Leaders Association fed students pizza.

“This is crazy,” freshman Rachel Delay said before the event was cancelled. “It’s a good way to get into the IU community pretty fast.”

Each student who attended the speaker’s presentation in the IU Auditorium received a free T-shirt. Each shirt said, “I won’t stand for ___” with a word such as “racism” or “homophobia” inserted. These shirts are part of the STAND campaign, a movement to end intolerance.

“This seemed like the perfect place to kick it off,” Doug Bauder, GLBT SSS coordinator, said.

Carlos Ojeda Jr. was the keynote speaker. Ojeda grew up in a Puerto Rican neighborhood and said everyone in his community shared the same culture.

When he was 10 years old, he witnessed a drug-deal-turned-murder, and his family uprooted him to a Pennsylvanian town different than what he was used to.  He was placed in a bilingual classroom, although he was fluent in both English and Spanish.
 
Ojeda said he wished to join the non-bilingual classes, so his father went to the school to see if he could take a test to move him to an

English-speaking classroom. He aced it.

Ojeda said he was excited, but after they left the school his father hit him on the back of his head for letting the school push him around.

“In my moment of triumph, my dad slapped me in the back of my head. Hard,” Ojeda said.

He said he learned something important that day.

“You must hold onto your voice,” Ojeda’s father said.

Ojeda encouraged students to take risks in life and step out of their comfort zones.

“The only voices that will change this world is ours,” he said. “Your voice is your
power.”

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