First Annual SJSU Cultural Showcase ~ Yes, We Can!  

by Mary Okin, May 29, 2014  

April 17, 2014 is already more than a month behind us, but for those of us who worked on the First Annual Cultural Showcase, the memories of all of our hard work and the final results are still fresh in our minds. This experience has been a source of continued inspiration. It demonstrated what a few creative Salzburg Scholars with a passion for change and the drive to work hard can accomplish.

Cultural Showcase Flier by Nichole Yang and Jonathan Perez

Conceived last fall by Erin Enguero, the Cultural Showcase was meant to be a student-run event that would celebrate and highlight the rich cultural and global diversity of SJSU. Several fellow Salzburg Scholars became excited to work with Erin on her project and promote global citizenship through an educational and fun concert. We’re proud to say that we ended up creating a truly special event for our learning community. While planned long before the hate crime that shook our campus last fall, for many of us, the showcase became a way to show solidarity and respond to such hatred with love for all cultures at SJSU. It was a way for our campus community to come together and share with one another. The energy in the room the day of the show was exhilarating!

This project consisted of three parts: 1) Planning the Event and jumping through all the necessary SJSU bureaucratic hoops to make it happen, 2) Hosting the event, and 3) Documenting our efforts so that the event could continue without us and that other Salzburg Scholars and SJSU students could have a road map for how to organize a similar event.

Planning the event

The First Annual Cultural Showcase involved a lot of planning. Meetings began in the fall and kicked into high gear over winter break and throughout the Spring 2014 semester.

Erin was an incredible leader! She researched and managed all aspects of this project, including all necessary forms and permissions, how to find and reach out to performers, how to obtain funding, how to structure a budget, how to book a venue, how to schedule a dress rehearsal, what food options were available, how to post the event on the SJSU website, how to put together the script, what we needed to have in the presentation, how to organize sound check, what music to play during intermission, what clubs focused on culture could table at the back of the ballroom, and so much more. She has got the skills of a future CEO or an Executive Director of a non-profit!

Dress Rehearsal: Erin Enguero hard at work, Laura Hart’s Prezi presentation on the screen, Kris Delacruz rehearsing a Pilipino Vocal!

(photo credit Mary Okin)

In late fall and early winter, some other folks came on board to help Erin make things happen: Mary Okin, Sophie Powers (2012 Salzburg Scholar), Jonathan Perez, Laura Hart, Nichole Yang, and Sophia Guttierez. These incredible scholars formed the core team of the Cultural Showcase and each managed a significant portion of what needed to get done:

Mary Okin- Managed food (which ended up being SJSU’s Street Eats serving delicious fusion tacos!), conducted final push public relations to various classes, college deans, senior administration, and news outlets (we made it to the front page of the SJSU website and in the Mercury News), recruited and managed volunteers, and pitched in where needed.

Sophie Powers- Managed performances back stage on the day of the show, helped recruit and manage volunteers, and filled in like a rock star  wherever she was needed!

Nichole Yang- Served as the Creative Director of fliers, posters, and the Cultural Showcase program by creating images and text that truly represented what our event was all about, helped out with publicity, led Cultural Showcase interviews, and pitched in wherever needed!

                                                                  (photo credit Mary Okin)
                       Jonathan Perez with Jonathan from Events Services in the background!
                       Laura Hart, finalizing the Prezi at the Dress Rehearsal!
                       Sophia Guttierez, at the Dress Rehearsal! 

Jonathan Perez- Managed the budget and printing, which included banners, posters, and hundreds of fliers, helped to coordinate club tabling at the back of the ballroom, helped with publicity, and pitched in where needed.

Laura Hart- Designed a beautiful and interactive Prezi Presentation that introduced and described our performers and their culture in an engaging way!

Sophia Guttierez- Helped with the publicity campaign and organized the Cultural Showcase postcard exhibit and raffle, which created a fun way for people to engage with how others view culture before the show and during intermission!

Between the seven of us, we split the work and helped to make Erin’s idea a reality!

The Dress Rehearsal: Here We Go! It's Really Going to Happen!!!!

After meetings, planning, and all of the bureaucratic hoops, we were finally in the ballroom where the event would take place. To set the mood, Erin played a mix of music compiled by Dr. Brad Stone (Salzburg Fellow), which represented every culture in the Showcase and also played during intermission the day of the Showcase! Getting in the mood, a bunch of us sat around filling out postcards for Sophia’s postcard exhibit and waited to see what the performances would be like.

(photo credit to Andy Dang) 

Dress Rehearsal, table read of the script. Left to right around the table: Erin Enguero and Avesta Sabetien (our host and our Master of Ceremonies), Jonathan Perez, Arianna Gibbs rehearsing  (in the distance), Carmel Weiler (2012 Salzburg Scholar), Nichole Yang, Mary Okin, and Sophia Guttierez. 

It was a chance for many of us to reunite, work together, and have some fun! In addition to the core team, we had Andy Dang helping out! Erin was meeting with folks that run the ballroom, checking in with everyone, and generally making things happen. Avesta Sabetien, our awesome MC, was in the house as well!

(photo credit to Andy Dang) 

Avesta Sabetien and his MC charm, with performers at the table! 
Laura Hart's Prezi up and running! 

The performances were incredible! We were already excited about the event being a go, but seeing the amazing line up that Erin had secured was really, really inspiring.

Documenting everything and preparing for the live show staging were Codi Mills – photographer extraordinaire – and her partner in crime, April DeOliviera.

(photo credit Mary Okin)

Codi Mills, lead photographer: Making it happen at the Dress Rehearsal!!!

In addition to rehearsals, Akos Meggyes (2012 Salzburg Scholar) was on site checking out the venue and starting to film the Cultural Showcase documentary! After dress rehearsals began, Mary and Nichole stepped into the halls of the Student Union to interview our performers. Learning about everyone’s culture and what they wanted to convey about their culture to the SJSU community was inspirational.
(photo credit Nichole Yang)

Mary and Akos interviewing the Eritrean Student Association, the final performer interview of the night!

Sitting in the hall was Carmel Weiler (2012 Salzburg Scholar). A brief conversation between Carmel and Sophia Guttierez lead to the idea of turning the postcard exhibit into a scavenger hunt raffle! Altogether the Cultural Showcase became a massive, collaborative effort!

(photo credit to Andy Dang)

Hard At Work On Those Postcards! Around the table from the left: Arianna Gibbs (our Modern Ballet dancer), Nichole Yang, Mary Okin, members of the Chinese Student Association, and Jonathan Perez. 

Between Rehearsals and April 17th!

Now it was time for the big push! Nichole put the finishing touches on the fliers and Jonathan printed more than 1,000! Every core team member was responsible for advertising the heck out of this thing; the Facebook campaign was just beginning. Mary visited all the Humanities Honors classes, college deans, and senior administration. She even got a referral to the head of SJSU publicity from the Presidential Aide, which landed our event on the SJSU homepage under the heading “Bright Ideas” with an article called “‘Cultural Showcase’ Displays Diversity“! Two colleges blogged about the event, and the San Jose Mercury News mentioned us!

That week, Sophie and Mary visited Jessy Goodman’s globally-themed English 1A class, another 2013-2014 Salzburg Project! Jessy’s students were getting extra credit to volunteer and to learn about culture and service at SJSU. In interviewing them later, we learned that for many of these first year students the Cultural Showcase became a meaningful and inspirational event. Other core team members were hard at work too! Sophia was busy promoting the postcard exhibit and collecting the piles of postcards coming in. Laura was finishing up the Prezi and Avesta was practicing the script. Everyone was posting the event on Facebook and promoting it to all of their classes.

The Facebook Campaign! More than 104 Facebook friends came, but a grand total of 300+ attendees showed up!!

The day before was particularly hectic. Nichole and Mary somehow managed to crank out a program brochure and poster redesigns in under 3 hours, with the kind help of the A. S. Print Shop staff. Sophie stayed up well into the morning reaching out to volunteers.

Throughout all of the madness, Erin was orchestrating everything behind the scenes, in addition to meeting with performers.

It was all a bit crazy, but tons of fun! The big day was almost here! :)

2014 Cultural Showcase Posters!


Hosting the Event – April 17, 2014- The Big Day!

Finally, it had arrived! For the past week, things had really kicked into high gear and for those of us pushing to make the Cultural Showcase happen, the arrival of April 17th was a bit surreal. Mary and Sophie had stayed up late the night before finalizing volunteer positions and Erin had been rehearsing how everything was going to go. Mary picked up print shop items and headed to the Student Union to set up shop and rig two giant posters with the help of Andy and another volunteer!

(photo credit Mary Okin)

Andy Dang with one of our volunteers. How do you rig a 6 foot poster to an easel? Rummage trip to the Spartan Bookstore + scissors, tape, and a can-do attitude!

The ballroom opened earlier than expected and another club kindly donated food and drinks! We were off and running! Sophie Powers was on sound check and backstage management, Mary was managing volunteers and helping to set up, Erin and Avesta were practicing the script, Sophia was setting up the postcard exhibit and raffle, Andy was helping out everywhere that he was needed, and Jonathan was setting up the Salzburg booth. Volunteers were posted at the doors, working as runners, inviting people to the Showcase outside the Student Union, and checking in performers.

 (photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira)

Outside the Student Union ballroom just before doors open! 

Some other 2013 Salzburg Scholars were helping out too! Joey Ruth and Skylar Lewandowski held down the fort at the check in table, Jess Sandoval, Megan Leckie, and Paolo Listana helped to interview guests, and Carmel Weiler delivered much needed bottled water. Some 2014 Scholars came out to volunteer and support the showcase too! :)

As guests started to fill the hallway you could hear the energy buzzing. The volunteers were rushing to do last minute tasks and taking their seats, folks were checking in, Nichole’s beautiful programs were being handed out, Laura’s Prezi was up and running, and the ballroom was about to open. Shortly after that, the Showcase began with a giant hip-hop bang, and a roar of enthusiastic applause!!!

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira)
Erin Enguero introducing the show!

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira)

The Hip Hop Club opened up the show with a bang and the audience went wild! 

photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira) 

Pride of the Pacific Islands moving their hips and making everyone smile!

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira)
Spartan Mambo Salsa Team brought some heat! 

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira)
Grupo Folklórico Luna y Sol did a truly global performance: 
a Mexican polka dance that originated in Poland!  

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira) 

Eritrean Student Association made everybody smile! 

During Intermission our audience filled the back of the ballroom to check out the club booths, walked downstairs for some delicious fusion tacos by SJSU Street Eats, and filled out their raffle ticket by playing the Cultural Showcase Postcard Gallery scavenger hunt!

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira) 

Guests checking out the Postcard Exhibit!

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira)
Cultural Showcase Scavenger Hunt in action!

    (photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira) 
Global Student Network and International House tabling at the back of the Student Union Ballroom. Waving to you is Schehrbano Khan a 2012 Salzburg Scholar.

After intermission was over, Dr. Reckmeyer, Director of the SJSU Salzburg Program, said a few words about the Salzburg Program and its value to SJSU, after which he and his wife Joanie selected our raffle prize winners.

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira) 
Dr. William Reckmeyer presenting the SJSU Salzburg Program to our audience!
(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira)
Avesta Sabetien, our charming Master of Ceremonies, introducing the next act! 

Whereas many folks who RSVP-ed stated that they could only stay for part of the first act, the majority of our guests were having such a great time that they remained for the second half of the show. And boy was it worth their while!

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira) 

Gayatri Venkatesan lit up the stage and our hearts with German opera! 

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira) 

Ariana Gibbs performing a spellbinding contemporary ballet solo!

  (photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira) 

Kris Delacruz crooning Pilipino vocals to a packed house! 
(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira) 

Spartan Wushu performed incredible martial arts and even brought swords to the stage! 
Here is a closeup of Brandon Vasquez in action!

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira)   

Chinese Student Association gave a colorful, unforgettable performance!

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira) 

Jessica Massie, Gayatri Venkatesan, and Anne Marie Angles closed the show with an original arrangement incorporating music from every culture presented at the Cultural Showcase!

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira) 

Salzburg Scholars and SJSU Cultural Showcase Performers preparing for the final bow. Front and center with the her hand raised is Sophie Powers, our formidable backstage manager!

These are just a few of the highlights from that night. There were so many others. Altogether, it was a magical night that many of us will remember forever!


Documenting Our Efforts

There are two parts to the documentation of this event. One is assembling a database, procedure documents, and contact lists for working on the event in the future, which is already beginning to take place for the Second Annual Cultural Showcase in 2015!

And reading through the really wonderful reviews from students who attended our event!

      “I was surprised. I thought it was going to be a lecture! Instead it was an awesome concert!!!” 
     “I really liked that it was a student-run event. It felt more fun!”

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira)   

Behind the Scenes! Filming of the Cultural Showcase Documentary!
The second part is a documentary, which we began filming during dress rehearsal, continued to film the night of the showcase (using more than 7 cameras and even a crane ~ go Akos!) capturing all performances and interviews with guests, and finished filming with follow up interviews with folks of interest, including Jessy Goodman’s English 1A students who made up the bulk of our volunteers. The Cultural Showcase documentary interviews were fascinating. People were incredibly generous in sharing their ideas about culture and cultural exchange. Since this was an unusually well-put-together showcase, a lot of folks in attendance were surprised and impressed by the event, including the Director of the SJSU Salzburg Program, two deans in attendance, the head of MOSAIC, faculty, students, and outside community members!

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira)   

Our audience having fun: left to right: Dr. William Reckmeyer and his wife Joanie Reckmeyer in their Salzburg best, Dr. Cynthia Rostankowski (2010 Salzburg Fellow), Hyon-Chu Baker (Director of MOSAIC at SJSU), and Erin Enguero and family.

Our favorite form of surprise was when students assigned to attend realized “showcase” meant a concert and not a lecture! Needless to say they were a little too happy! :) Many of the volunteers were grateful for their experience and expressed interest in volunteering again next year. For the 2013 Salzburg Scholars, this event stirred memories of being back at Schloss Leopoldskron, forming a community, and sharing ideas in a collaborative and joyful way.

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira) 
Jess Sandoval one of our Cultural Showcase interviewers holding a packet of photo release forms!  

The Cultural Showcase documentary is being edited this summer and should be available next year. Procedures are also being finalized, and meetings are being scheduled for later in the summer, in order to begin the work necessary to make the 2015 Cultural Showcase an even bigger and better event! As the new 2014 Salzburg Scholars head to Salzburg, we hope that some of them will come back from Europe and pick up the Cultural Showcase baton! We can’t wait to showcase and celebrate more of our global community at SJSU next year!!!

(photo credit to Codi Mills, Brody Kaplan and April DeOliveira) 
From the bottom of our hearts, the 2013 Salzburg Scholars thank everyone who helped make this event happen!!!!!  In the back row: “The Wolf Pack” consisting of Paolo Listana, Andy Dang, Joey Ruth, Avesta Sabetien, and Jonathan Perez. In the front row, The Ladies: Jess Sandoval, Laura Hart, Skylar Lewandowski, Erin Enguero (in the pretty blue dress!), Nichole Yang, Jessy Goodman, Megan Leckie, Sophia Guttierez, Mary Okin, and Codi Mills.

No comments:

Post a Comment