Students put on Cultural Celebration Evening

Performances, fashion and food from around the world showcased

Enjoy a night of food and entertainment at the city’s cultural hub put together by fellow students.

For the sixth year, the University of Winnipeg’s (U of W) Professional, Applied and Continuing Education (PACE) program has organized its Cultural Celebration Evening with the help of students.

On Jan. 27, there will be 13 cultural performances, a global fashion show and food from around the world at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG).

“The audience at PACE is very diverse. We have about 40 per cent international students, and they are kind of locked in on campus from 9 to 4, so they are very busy,” PACE student life coordinator Mekala Wickramasinghe says.

PACE got students to organize the event as a way to give them the opportunity to get more involved with their community.

“Being a student in the human resources management program, I have been able to apply what I learnt in class and improve on my people skills and work ethic,” U of W student Sylvia Onwuocha says.

Though her role is helping to recruit volunteers and plan an orientation for them, she says she learned more about managing both individuals and groups, and she gained emotional intelligence by developing new relationships.

“Leadership skills and being confident in myself are great take-aways I have gotten as a planner,” Onwuocha says. “Furthermore, the PACE program is a very intense one, so finding that balance, staying organized and multitasking between studies and social work are some benefits of being involved.”

Prior to enrolling in university, Onwuocha says she loved to volunteer at events and this program gave her the opportunity to continue to do so while at U of W.

Free tickets are reserved for students and alumni, and all spots are often called for quickly.

“The alumni who performed, who planned the event in the previous years, they love to come and see what this year’s students are planning,” Wickramasinghe says.

Although it’s a lot of work, planning this event also encourages students to get into the community and take some time to relax, make new friends and have fun with others, Wickramasinghe says. 

“The need is that there’s a really diverse group here and for them to know that university is a place – it doesn’t matter where they’re from – where they belong,” she says.

Entertainment will include cultural performances from Croatia, China, north and south India, Ukraine, Italy and Nepal. Of the 13 acts, only two are being performed by professionals.

One of the pros is seven-year-old Indigenous hoop dancer Rylee Sandberg, who is set to go on stage to do a traditional dance that will have some audience interaction, including explaining the dance’s importance to the Indigenous community.

“She will be making noises, and there will be some patterns of the animals, and (it will be) really connected to nature,” Wickramasinghe says.

The other will be a dancer from Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Refreshments will be offered at a Global Reception, including poutine and spring rolls.

To see if tickets are still available or to volunteer with upcoming PACE events, email pace.events@uwinnipeg.ca.

Published in Volume 71, Number 17 of The Uniter (January 26, 2017)

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