Last night, Culture Editor Tony Gong went to CCSC’s massive multicultural event “Passport to Columbia,” and returned a little more appreciative of diverse foods, arts, and Columbia, the nation. His account of the night follows.

Some people (naysayers and cynics, mainly) don’t think you need a passport to go to Columbia. “Columbia is a university, not a country,” they may argue. Well, last night, the CCSC Campus Life Committee finally showed us that Columbia is actually a country with over twenty smaller countries inside of it. Correspondingly, we’ve got a pretty kickass flag (see picture to the right). And yes, you do need a passport to enroll, naysayers. More proof and pictures after the jump.


The first thing I learned about Columbia, the mega-country is that our food is both fantastic and free. Every constituent culture showed us the best of its chefs, conveniently available for our trial in multicultural aluminum trays. Some of the most popular aluminum trays were provided by the Muslim Students Association, from which I enjoyed delicious fitir (Egyptian spinach and cheese pie), stuffed grape leaves, and kebbe (Lebanese meatballs, a little firmer and more smokier than American meatballs). Here, taboule (Lebanese salad), basbousa (Egyptian dessert), and humus with baba ghannough are pictured:


I eventually went on to fill my plate with scorched egg (slices of hard-boiled eggs covered and baked in minced meat) from the African Students Association, chicken kabob from Organization of Pakistani Students, kugel (a tasty dessert made with egg noodles, I think) from the Columbia/Barnard Hillel, and egg yolk moon cake from the Hong Kong Students and Scholars Society. My multicultural plate in its full glory:


As the citizens of Columbia, the mega-country grew fuller from government-subsidized foods, we progressed onto the performance portion of the night. CU Bhangra, the Punjabi (Punjab: a region of India and Pakistan) dance group, started off the performance schedule and demonstrated superhuman dance abilities that defied all camera shutter speeds.

Next, the Chinese Students Club’s Lion Dance troupe put on a colorful performance of jumping, dancing, and roaring to heavy drums and hand percussion. It seemed for awhile there to involve in a thirty-second makeout session between the two lions, but turns out the lions were just trying to pull out the Chinese Students Club banner.


The energetic dance culminated in the lions smashing heads of Chinese cabbage together — a symbolic activity of spreading the wealth and fortune to the citizens of Columbia the mega-country. However, the cabbage remained on the stage for the rest of the performances, and a poor student frantically attempted to sweep it all off the stage between acts. Fortune was not in everyone’s favor that night.

Other performance highlights that my photographer wasn’t around for included:

  • Sasha Thompson’s lovely and emotional vocal performance of Alicia Keys’ “How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore?”
  • Ayse Buket Coskuner’s Turkish dance performance
  • Pizmon — Columbia/Barnard Hillel’s a cappella that I’m pretty sure featured multiple air guitar soloists
  • CU Raas — a vivid dance group of Western India
  • Gaith Adhami — an Islamic spoken word poet
  • Ahmed Eid — a solo a cappella performer who sang verses from the Koran
  • Orisha — a Caribbean dance group that featured large hand drums, taunting of the audience, and colorful dresses
  • Stone Forest Ensemble — a fusion rap freestyle/beatbox/string orchestral/hand drum group that made me want to take up any of those activities.

Overall, it was a wonderful night that probably increased patriotism and passport applications for Columbia, the mega-country. But of course, it wasn’t altogether accurate. The citizens of our mega-country don’t just eat, sing, and dance. We also like to mark the constituent countries from where we came, nostalgically remembering those days of our fatherland:

And sometimes, homework can’t wait until Sunday:


photos by Evan Omi and Michelle Pena