Island music beats on Mall

By Cassie Blombaum
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 25, 2005

Drums, dances show diversity

Drumbeats echoed between buildings on the UA Mall yesterday as performing artists celebrated the vibrant percussion from "sound of the islands."

The annual event "Drums Across Cultures" featured different "Drums of the Islands" from the South Pacific and Polynesian islands.

Abby M. Aguilar, events coordinator of the department of Multicultural Programs and Services, said the theme of "Drums of the Islands" was selected in part to show how diverse campus life is.

"Throughout the year, we highlight various cultural acts for our events," Aguilar said. "It's our way of embracing all cultures and an opportunity to show the campus that we are inclusive of all."

The event, which provided free Eegee's for participants, will directly benefit the UA, Aguilar said.

"By having our staff hand out cool drinks at the beginning of the year, it's a relaxed and fun way for us to welcome all students to the university," Aguilar said. "More importantly, it lets the campus know that we are here to ensure a culturally diverse and inclusive campus.

This year's event included music from around the South Pacific and Polynesian Islands and featured the Tucson Polynesian Family, a performing Samoan group that played Samoan, New Zealand, Hawaiian, Tahitian, Maori, Tokelauan and Tongan beats.

Petti Matila, a political science senior and a member of the Tucson Polynesian Family, said the group is a mixture of people who are passionate about promoting Samoan and Polynesian cultures through music and dance.

Matila said the group is composed of not only UA students, but also students from Pima Community College and members of the U.S. Air Force.

Matila also said the group is more like family because all the members can relate to each other through their similar backgrounds and experiences.

"We know that we are all from the same group of people," Matila said. "We know each other very well and we all have each other."

Matila said the event is important because it exposes the UA campus to a sometimes-unrecognized group of people.

"It's a way we can expose our culture to here in Tucson and to the world," Matila said. "To share our culture with everybody here. It is a way people can learn from us."

Overall, the event was effective, said optical sciences and engineering senior Charles Palaia, who caught a glimpse of the show between classes.

"It was interesting to observe some different cultures." Palaia said. "I really enjoyed it."

Sponsored by Multicultural Affairs and Student Success, the event was part of Wildcat Welcome Week, an annual program aimed at celebrating students' return to campus.