Rutgers recognizes global cultures at OXFEST
More than 50 students gathered Thursday for OXFEST, an event celebrating the multiculturalism found at Rutgers while attempting to educate attendees about issues faced by many living around the world.
Hosted by Oxfam Rutgers, the University’s chapter of Oxfam International, the event sought to engage the Rutgers community by providing them with a slew of cultural performances and a feast featuring cuisines from all corners of the globe. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the international group.
Among the night's four performances were showings by the RU Dhol Effect, named for the ancient South Asian drum responsible for the group’s unique sound and the Rutgers Salsa Club, who took to the stage and later taught their audience how to dance like the best.
After a short intermission for dinner, HARU took to the stage to show off their signature K-pop routines. The Rutgers Chinese Dance Troupe closed the night with a showcase of traditional Chinese dances.
“Oxfam really tries to tell all of its ... chapters across the board to host events that are fun, because the issues of poverty and injustice are really depressing issues,” said Ameena Rana, president of the Rutgers chapter. “They kind of avoid talking about these things.”
In the past, the Rutgers chapter had gathered clothing, funds and foodstuffs for a wide range of charitable causes, including New Brunswick’s own homeless community, the School of Arts and Sciences senior said.
Recently, their focus has been placed primarily on the Syrian refugee crisis. Through their efforts, the club was able to gather “a truckload” of clothes to send to migrants living in Turkish refugee camps, she said.
But aid is not all that the organization has to offer. In addition to its charitable and fundraising activities, the club acts to dispel misconceptions and make the surrounding community more attuned to the state of the disenfranchised living around the world, said Ranya Elmaghariki, the club’s vice president.
“I've personally been to Turkey and I've seen them. People have a misinformed perception of what's going on over there and how people are really affected by the crisis that’s going on in Syria and the Middle East,” the School of Arts and Sciences junior said.
The larger organization works hands-on in more than 90 countries all over the world, Rana said. Instead of just providing aid to these communities, the organization empowers individuals that have been taken advantage of by their governments.
“When you think of places in Africa, or even places in Asia, you would think of them as having very large rural communities,” she said. “Even though they do, what happens is because of the corruption in their government or the corruption in their local region a lot of them are taken advantage of.”
This corruption can result in those citizens being forced to live without food or clean water, she said.
“(Oxfam) wants to send people into these underdeveloped communities where people are suffering from extreme poverty, different types of injustices … and help those people help themselves by empowering the people to stand up for their rights or to be able to grow their own food so they don't have to rely on their own government or outside source,” she said.
Nikita Biryukov is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. He is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikitabiryukov_ for more.