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Culture Night at OU

From Schwarzbrot to Ukrainian folk songs, all in one night.

Have you ever felt the stirring desire to attend an event that would feature a Japanese drum band called Thunder Drum, elementary school kids singing in French and your old professor dressed in her great grandmother’s traditional Russian clothing? I know my friends and I have. This past Friday, we got to experience all of that at OU’s Song and Dance Culture Night—along with plenty of free food to boot (shout out to the Germans for bring Schwarzbrot and the Saudi Student Association for the baklavas).

I found out about this event the day before it happened. I stumbled across an article about it in the OU Daily. Upon skimming the article, I saw that Dr. Katerina Tsetsura (the professor who took me to Germany) along with her old graduate assistant Anna Kochigina would be performing traditional Russian and Ukrainian folk songs. It’s not everyday one sees a tenured university professor singing in Russian, so my friends and I could not pass up the opportunity. We rolled out the next night to get cultured.

Left to Right: Katie Fikes, Nathan Robertson, Tyler Mahoney, and Annia Restuccia all getting cultured.

What strikes me first upon entering the building is the blend of people. Students wear clothing representing countries from all across the world—from 100-year-old Russian vests to Native American garbs. Despite this vast difference in appearance, people are eager to mix and meet new people. Everyone is curious to eat new food, ask questions and learn something new.

Tyler and Katie's new Arabic names.

The show pleasantly surprises me. Even though all the performances are amateur, it’s so much fun to watch. I particularly enjoy the song Chinese elementary school students sang, and my friends enjoy making fun of me as I watch it. And how can you go wrong with a Japanese drum group called "Thunder Drum" on the program?

It's like Japanese Drumline.

It is just fun to watch performances and hear stories from places around the world that I do not think about normally. I am moved when African students perform poetry about how their continent is not a place to be pitied. I laugh when the Saudi Student Association speaker makes a joke about his language sounding like “alagelphewm alagelphewm alageha” [paraphrase]. I try not to be awkward as the Latin Dance Club drags my friends and I out of the audience for a beginning dance lesson. It reminds me that I go to an international university—sometimes I forget that fact if I am not looking closely enough, but I never need search too long for opportunities like this. It almost makes me feel like I am abroad again.

Everybody's favorite Russian professor from Gaylord.
We all wanted to be friends with the people who brought the baklavas.

My favorite part of the event was the friends that went with me. It’s cool that my age group is getting to the point where we really enjoying getting out of our comfort zone and doing things like this. It’s a mark of the international curiosity that OU students are infected with by being surrounded by peers from all over the world. It is great to experience novel things with good friends, period.

And it is always totally acceptable to run away somewhere familiar later and eat taco salads. Good time had by all.

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