A Global Gala
The second annual Lafro-Caribe Pageant drew dozens of participants to celebrate cultural diversity on campus through music, dance, and fresh knowledge and perspectives.
History, music, dance, food—all these elements and more combined to make this year’s Lafro-Caribe Pageant a vibrant gathering where WC students celebrated cultural diversity and helped educate each other about countries from Ethiopia to Jamaica.
“We wanted it to be both fun and educational, but it’s mainly to express pride in yourself and your culture and to share a piece of yourself with other people,” says Calisa Gayle ’20, who chaired the event in April along with co-chair Destiny Harris ’21. Gayle, a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from Jamaica, is a double major in psychology and Spanish, treasurer of the Black Student Union, and Honor Board chair for the Student Government Association. She says that while the inaugural event last year was focused largely on Caribbean and African cultures, this year’s pageant incorporated more countries.
For example, siblings Jalelewak Tolessa ’19 and Jiruwak Tolessa ’20 represented Ethiopia, while Robert Kabonero ’22 represented Uganda, Alex Rowe ’20 Jamaica, Fatimata Kane ’19 Senegal, and Lizet Ivarra ’21 Mexico. Along with food, music, and dance provided by the dance troupe Shore Steppers, the participants engaged in trivia and Q-and-A which included facts about economics, politics, and social issues in various countries.
Participants’ presentations were judged on creativity, stage presence, enthusiasm, preparation, delivery, overall performance, and philanthropy, since each contestant was raising money for a chosen cause, on which they also spoke. The judges’ panel of faculty, staff, and community members included Erneatka Webster, associate director of student financial aid; Mala Misra, assistant professor of biology; Adam Goodheart, director of the Starr Center for the Student of the American Experience; Chestertown community member Doncella Wilson; Christalyn Grandison ’11; and Ervens Jean-Pierre ’20.
Kane won among the women, and Jalelewak Tolessa won among the men.
About 40 people attended the event, which was sponsored by the Student Government Association and supported by the SGA’s secretary of diversity Felicia Attor ’20, the offices of Intercultural Affairs and Student Engagement, and Elena Deanda, associate professor of Spanish.