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OCAT hosts fashion show for diversity

April 7, 2010

As an Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions, or OCAT, aide in Rather Hall this year, Brent Mitchell noticed cliques based on race forming in his hall.

Although Mitchell, a communication junior, felt the grouping had more to do with students staying within their comfort zones rather than racial tension, he said he felt it was important to give students a taste of the various cultures around them.

Mitchell helped create the Trends From All Ends fashion show held Wednesday night in Rather Hall. The show featured OCAT aides from Brody Complex, as well as about 50 students sharing their culture before a crowd of about 40.

“I thought (a fashion show) would energize people and get people’s attention,” Mitchell said.
“It’s something that’s easy to participate in and it would be a good format for everyone to come together and really enjoy the benefits of diversity on campus.”

Each campus dorm contains some diversity, but Rather Hall is one of the most diverse in Brody Complex, said Natasha LaGrone, an OCAT aide at Rather Hall and a communication junior. LaGrone said clothing is an important part of an individual’s culture.

“There are so many cultures in Brody,” LaGrone said. “People may dress a certain way and you may not know why and what the reasons behind it are. … The clothing is a way of expressing yourself.”

International relations freshman Sahara Uwase modeled a Rwandan outfit often worn by women at engagement parties. She said sharing her culture with people in her hall is something she does on a day-to-day basis.

“On our floor is a lot of girls. I’ve gotten to know them and where they came from and how they view America,” Uwase said. “Even one of our (mentors) is Indian. It’s really nice it’s such a wide range. It’s nice to get an experience out of that.”

Uwase also said the fashion show had a purpose in spreading greater diversity throughout campus.

“Everybody, in a way, dresses the same,” she said. “It’s a good idea that OCAT decided to do this.”

For international student Nurgul Serikpekova, showing her Kazakstani culture to others in her dorm is important.

“In Rather, there are two Kazakstani people,” Serikpekova said. “I want to show my culture.”

Aside from fashion, other acts during the evening included a saxophone player, Turkish and Irish dance groups and a guitarist.

Child development freshman Asia Pratt said she tended to make friends with people with whom she shared a culture because they had more in common. She described herself as quiet and said she hoped the event would help her become more confident in approaching people with a background different than hers.

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