Cultural nights, such as Omkara, International Night and Lunar New Year, are moments meant for students to flaunt and embrace the beauty of their cultures and enjoy the night. These shows are purely for entertainment and for the sake of the participants, as well as for those who are interested in different cultures. In my opinion, to make cultural nights a source of extra credit is unfair. It is one thing to advertise and encourage students to go to these events, but it is a different matter to ask for a review paper after a performance on stage.
First, it’s unfair to the people who actually want to watch the shows and who are interested in them. Those who come for academic reasons will rush to get the tickets, occupy the seats and not even put them to the right use. Second, it’s mostly unfair for the performers who have invested their sweat, blood and time to choreograph the performances. Audience members coming for extra credit end up benefiting from this hard work without giving back the due share of appreciation for these performers.
Asking for students’ attendance at cultural nights does not allow the students to become fully involved in the shows or enjoy them completely. Note-taking reduces the engagement of the audience in the performance. The students attending for credit just feel obligated to be present.
Additionally, the performances in such shows comprise of traditional dances and music which are showcased for the sake of entertainment. For this reason, it’s hard to write about them and relate them to different departments on campus. These events could be relevant to the dance department. For the others departmens, however, I am not so sure.
Another factor to keep in mind is that the student performers are not experts despite that many do research before performances. We are not professionals and neither are participating professors. Such shows are not a complete, true and authentic representation of our culture, either. They are more or less influenced by the media and the entertainment industry.
What would be appreciated by us international students and performers is the professors’ ability to spread the word for these cultural nights – for example, giving out information to a larger group of people, people who are genuinely interested in the foreign cultures would get to know about them and would attend the events for the sake of experience instead of credit. These culture-centered, student-based organizations do plan educational events throughout the year. Extra credit should be reserved for these informational events, where students can learn the many different aspects of other cultures.
Rida Ali ’21 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is from Pakistan. She is a studio art major.