World Fair showcases UA diversity

By Mika Mandelbaum
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 28, 2005

Multicultural clubs offer food, treats, information on wealth of cultures

In hopes of showcasing the diversity at the UA, a festival is being held this weekend to highlight the different cultures that exist on campus.

The Wildcat World Fair, taking place tomorrow and Sunday on the UA Mall, is a free multicultural festival that is modeled after Tucson Meet Yourself, a diversity festival put on annually by the City of Tucson, said Stephanie Hartz, director of the fair.

"It's kind of an idea that's been brewing for a while," Hartz said. "It's not your traditional diversity event."

Twelve multicultural clubs on campus will set up booths at the fair, where they will sell food and have activities that reflect their cultures.

The Muslim Students Association will sell baklava and other foods at its booth, which they plan to decorate with Islamic rugs and prayer mats, said Qadri Tung, the Wildcat World Fair coordinator for the association.

"This event will be highly educational on the different cultures," Tung said. "This understanding is key to finding common grounds and breaking cultural barriers."

Other clubs include the Middle Eastern and North African graduate students, who will be giving free henna tattoos, and the Ciao Italian Club, which will be selling pasta, bruschetta and Italian lemonade, Hartz said.

Some of the clubs will also put on performances for the chance of winning cash prizes.

The lineup includes Indian dancers, traditional Italian folk dancing, Middle Eastern belly dancing and break dancing.

All clubs will keep all of their profits, Hartz said, even though the Associated Students of the University of Arizona are sponsoring the event.

"The idea is not for ASUA to make money," Hartz said. "It is outreach for some of the underrepresented groups on campus."

ASUA shelled out $11,000 for the event under the stipulation that not all of the money would be used. The funds that are left over from the fundraising event will be given back to the student government, Hartz said.

"The simple fact that ASUA is sponsoring this event makes a loud statement that we, as Americans, advocate peace and understanding in the community, reaching out to any and every culture and group with the hopes of finding a better future together," Tung said.

The fair is also being funded by a $3,000 grant from Alltel and $1,000 from the UA Diversity Resource Office, Hartz said.

The Arizona Student Unions also donated about 20 cases of soda for the fair, but Hartz said she hopes one day the fair will be able to support itself through grant money.

"One of the goals in the future is to make (the fair) self-sustaining," Hartz said. "I'm already looking into grants we can get to fund it in upcoming years."

The fair is meant to be one of many efforts on campus to increase diversity and multicultural awareness, said Raji Rhys-Wietecha, assistant director of the Diversity Resource Office.

It helps show people that everyone is welcome at the UA and that the campus is a place where anyone who comes can reach his or her potential, Rhys-Wietecha said.

"I think these programming efforts help create the type of campus climate we want," Rhys-Wietecha said.