Cultural clubs throughout Berkeley High School (BHS) surrounded the campus green to spread awareness and show their spirit at the Cultural Club Fair on Friday, March 11.
The event included students from the BHS Native Student Union (NSU), BHS Black Student Union (BSU), BHS Multicultural Student Association (MCSA), and more. Featuring songs, dancing, food, and clothes from a variety of cultures, the fair gave students an opportunity to showcase their cultural pride.
The beating of drums rang throughout the school as students watched their fellow classmates perform. Students and staff dressed in clothing from their culture, and others held flags to show their spirit. Dance performances featured students from BHS teacher Xin Chen’s Mandarin class, an African Diaspora dance, and students performing a Palestinian dance.
The club fair aimed to spotlight the different cultures throughout BHS in an interactive way, said Hanim Nuru, BHS senior and ASB vice president. Nuru is one of the coordinators of the club fair, and is a member of the MCSA. She said that being part of a cultural club has allowed her to talk about her culture.
Both Nuru and Olivia Eknoian, BHS’s Commissioner of Clubs, initiated the club fair. Nuru said it is important for all cultures on campus to be recognized and appreciated, and she hopes the club fair will continue in future years.
“I want to make sure that every person enjoys wearing their cultural clothes and [is] able to express that in a [prideful] way,” Nuru said.
Hana Medhkour, a senior at BHS, attended the fair dressed in clothing from her Algerian culture. She is a member of both the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Student Union, and the MCSA.
She said “people don’t know that much about Algeria,” and she hopes the fair will draw attention to other underrepresented cultures.
BHS sophomore Gabi Rawles also attended the fair, drawn in by the unique perspective that the fair brings to BHS. She said the fair is an event specific to BHS, and it allows students to acknowledge and understand all cultures.
“It’s important that all cultures get equal representation,” Rawles said. “[The fair] brings people together and helps us appreciate each other’s cultures.”
Cecelia Pulu, a senior at BHS, represented Tongan culture, which is a Polynesian culture originating from small islands in the Pacific Ocean.
For Pulu, it is important to embrace herself and her culture despite the limited number of Tongan people at BHS.
“You should always embrace yourself. Be yourself no matter where you go,” Pulu said.
Many of the cultural clubs offered at BHS set up booths around the campus green, passing out food and t-shirts, encouraging students to join the clubs.
The Native Student Union ran a booth offering t-shirts, incense, and cookies from their culture.
The NSU was founded this year to create an accessible community for students who may not have access to Indigenous groups at BHS, according to NSU members Twyla Piatote and Raquel Matthews.
Matthews said the NSU provides a safe space for students to “celebrate a culture that is often deliberately wiped out.” She said it is sometimes a struggle to find students that identify with your culture, therefore having a cultural club makes it easier to find new people.
“We want to encourage people to get involved with their local Indigenous communities and do the work that needs to be done,” Piatote said.
Miles Davis, a BHS senior and the vice president of the Black Student Union (BSU), helped run the club’s booth at the fair.
Davis said the BSU attended the club fair in hopes that others would gain a sense of their culture and understand the purpose of the BSU.
He said the cultural clubs offer a space for students to be part of their own community, and they can meet and interact with students that they might not have met otherwise. It is important to him that the clubs at BHS help raise awareness and gain recognition of diverse cultures throughout the school.
“I think it’s important to be familiar with other cultures, especially around the people you share the school with,” Davis said.