Creativity and culture shine at “Voices”
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The GLC Simmons Center was filled to the brim with students on March 2 as “Voices” began. “Voices: An Intercultural Performance Night Exploring Identity” is a collaboration between the Westmont Activities Council and Intercultural Programs. The goal of “Voices” is for Westmont students to be able to convey their racial, cultural, gender/sexuality, and ethnic identity through a plethora of expressive art forms.
“This is the second year ‘Voices’ has happened; last year was the first. Cameryn Ideyma, current WAC director, approached ICP last year with the idea to collaborate on something,” said Bethany Le, ICO’s business manager. “It filled a niche we didn’t realize we were missing.”
“Voices” was hosted by Dee Kim and Rebekah Beeghly, and featured fifteen performers. Ranging from first-years to visiting alumni, they told stories about their pasts and how it shaped who they have become. Their methods of expression were creative and varied. Some read poems and short stories that expressed the richness of their cultural heritage. Among these was Andrea Garcia, who crafted her story through a combination of Spanish and English. Garcia expressed her reasons for participating, “I went to the Phoenix open mic night and realized that my words can help people see different points of view.” For her performance, Garcia explored her time in high school and at Westmont, describing her challenges with the “lines she had once dared not cross” when it came to expressing her cultural identity. After a litany of applause, Garcia said, “I feel blessed. Their reaction confirmed my passion, and that I shouldn’t let it go.”
There was also a host of musical talent on display. Angela Lowe performed a touching piano rendition of “Yellow” by Coldplay, and Jason Clarke chronicled his international journeys and inward reflections through his original song, “Falling Down.”
“Music can be universal,” stated Bethany Le. “Combining music and other art forms with identity can break language barriers and cultural boundaries.”
Others conveyed their culture through motion, such as Zion Shih, whose bout of thrilling swordplay concluded with thunderous applause from her peers.
The idea of sharing identity continued throughout the evening, as students described the prejudices and questions that influenced who they are. For some, it was a time of reflection; for others, a time of learning. Katherine Marquez, who told a short story about her Filipino and German heritage, stated, “I didn’t know a lot about my German side, and asked my parents about that aspect of my background. I hope my story encourages people to expand their perspectives on others.” During her performance, Marquez described how the cultural differences present in a multiracial identity mean that “some things can get lost in translation”. Then, she asserted that Jesus Christ ensures those things aren’t lost, and showed through His message how each person is a fully-realized individual despite their differences. Those differences in Christ were shone proudly by many at “Voices” that evening, as the performers’ sincere tales and artistic expressions helped Westmont students learn more about each other and themselves.