The University of Minnesota’s Al-Madinah Cultural Center hosted its first intercultural gala Friday at the Weisman Art Museum.
AMCC regularly serves as a site for cultural exchange by hosting monthly showcases at Coffman Union in collaboration with other Muslim-majority student groups. However, this event — called the Do It For the Culture Gala — also included collaborations with performers from non-Muslim cultural groups and backgrounds, said AMCC president Sumaya Mohamed.
“We had in mind to open that platform and show to the general public that as being Muslims, we’re very acknowledging and welcoming to other cultures … Muslim and non-Muslim,” said Jinan Ali, AMCC’s outreach coordinator and fourth-year student.
The gala was a celebration of cultures around the world and consisted of a sequence of international entertainment and dining.
Dhoom Dance Crew, a University Bollywood-fusion dance group, kicked off the evening with a synchronized routine that was followed by other performances, including spoken word poetry, Palestininan dabke and songs performed in Spanish and Chinese.
Ali was able to coordinate the evening’s line-up by inviting performers she had seen at other campus events such as the Minnesota International Student Association’s Feast of Nations.
The event also featured a fashion show that showcased the traditional clothing of several countries and cultures, including Indonesia, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Oromia and Eritrea. Many students also joined in representing and sharing their heritage by attending the gala in traditional garments, creating a spectrum of vibrant colors at the art museum.
In addition, the art lining the walls of the venue highlighted projects created by people of color, ranging from photography to Arabic calligraphy.
“This is an event we were luckily able to bring together the different cultures we want to represent at AMCC and a lot of the Islamic values we wanted to share with the cultures that we represent,” Mohamed said.
First-year international student Farha Ismail said the event was an opportunity to engage with different communities that she did not know existed on campus.
“I wanted to meet more people and know different cultures because, as an international student, you don’t see that much around here,” Ismail said. “You don’t see many different cultural groups, and I feel like this event just had a lot of them that I didn’t know were here.”
AMCC — which is known to host an annual comedy night each spring — hopes to keep hosting the gala as a recurring, annual event.