Students Get Worldly at Cultural Fusion Field Day

Posted: October 19, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: January 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm

By Rashad Mulla

Students at Cultural Fusion Field Day played chess on a giant board. Photo by Nicolas Tan

Students at Cultural Fusion Field Day played chess on a giant board. Photo by Nicolas Tan

Tai Chi demonstrations, pickup soccer games and chess played on gigantic boards aren’t part of Mason’s daily schedule of events. But on Oct. 8, these activities and other performances, booths and demonstrations were all on display at the Fairfax Campus.

Organizers junior Mrinalini Ramanan, a biology major, and Naliyah Kaya, a sociology graduate student, estimated that the second annual Cultural Fusion Field Day (CFFD) attracted more than 400 students.

Vendors, student groups and performers set up shop on the Quad outside of Student Union Building I. Students played soccer and chess, dressed in clothing from different cultures and posed for photos at the Global Photo Booth, signed up for prizes and visited information booths.

According to organizers, CFFD aimed “to create a nonthreatening environment for the free exchange of ideas about world sports, dance, politics, food and everything fun to promote a cosmopolitan environment.”  By all accounts, the event met that goal.

“The feedback I received from participants and passersby was that they wanted to have events like CFFD on a more frequent basis, especially the student performances and demonstrations,” Kaya said.

The event attracted Mason student organizations such as Student Government and the Arab Student Association, as well as outsiders such as William O’Brien, who set up an exhibit featuring all things Irish.

“I’m interested in joining an organization, so I visited just about all of the stands there,” said junior Rafiq Baccouche, an information technology major.

CFFD featured a rap performance, two belly dancers and the Tai Chi demonstration as the main attractions. The rapper–V–performed for free, Ramanan said. The belly dancers followed up their performances, which were presented by the Mason Bellydance Club, by teaching their craft to some in the audience. After the Tai Chi demonstration, which was sponsored by the Confucius Institute at Mason, audience members took part in a mini lesson.

“The performances were a really big hit this year and will definitely continue to be a part of CFFD in the future,” Kaya said. “The performance workshops were a way for students, who did not necessarily participate in sports, to take an active and fun learning role in a culture that was new to them.”

Students heard about the event through friends, Facebook and flyers.

Organizer Mrinalini Ramanan, center, and friends had fun trying out cultural clothing. Photo by Lori A. Wilson

Organizer Mrinalini Ramanan, center, and friends Emily Perdue and Rayanne Mroczek had fun trying out cultural clothing. Perdue created the backdrop for the Photo Booth and was a Photo Booth photographer. Photo by Lori A. Wilson

“A couple of friends wanted to go, so I joined them,” said junior Kawthar Yusuf, a neuroscience major. “I was there for about five or 10 minutes, and we got to watch the belly dancers.”

Even some alumni made it out.

“Last year, I helped out a bit with [preparation],” said Michael Gryboski, BA History ’09. “This year, I came out to enjoy myself. I got in a couple of good games of soccer and a couple of games of chess. I am undefeated thus far, which is awesome.”

Many others were involved in the planning and preparation for the event, Ramanan said. Erica Hernandez, an administrative assistant in the Office of Admissions, designed the logo and many of the banners for the event. Erek Perry, director of the University Scholars program, provided guidance throughout the process and Leandra Johnson was the table fair organizer, Ramanan said.  The Office of Diversity Programs and Services, University Life, University Scholars and various student organizations, especially the Hispanic Student Association, were some of the sponsors.

To find out more, visit CFFD on Facebook.

Write to mediarel at