Carnival across the Atlantic

Second annual Carnevale! ¡Carnaval! Carnival! a resounding success

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Rebecca Gelson '23 and Emily Lyons '23 paint masks to celebrate Carnivale

For the second time in Muhlenberg’s history, the Spanish Club, Italian Club and French Club came together to host “Carnevale! ¡Carnaval! Carnival!” The event was open to the entire community on Friday, Feb. 21, and featured a variety of fun and engaging culturally-derived activities. Upon entering the Seegers Great Room, one could expect to see several tables covered with decorations, each one filled with merry and intrigued students. Some were carried away with the array of available refreshments, while others preferred the social aspect, and enjoyed an opportunity to connect with friends and strangers through crafts and table games.

The Weekly had the opportunity to have a conversation with event coordinators Brooke Cohen ’20, Naomi Roll ‘20, Lily Stange ‘20, Jacob Botelho ’20 and Logan Meyer ‘21. The five student representatives spoke passionately about the event and how proud they are to be sharing culture on such a large scale with their peers. 

“It’s something we’ve done in past years,” said Cohen, “and hopefully this will set a precedent for the future, so we can keep making this [event] happen.”

Strange explained that all of the music played over the course of the event is popular in one of the three countries in question: Italy, France or Spain. Then, the group began to discuss the culinary offerings for the evening. The array of hors d’oeuvres on display was apparently inspired by the dishes that the five students had sampled while studying abroad, and they agreed that these snacks were simply too delicious to not include as a staple of “Carnevale! ¡Carnaval! Carnival!”

“All of us are pretty involved in language clubs,” Roll chimed in. “We want to cultivate interest outside of language courses and understand that there is a massive cultural element only present in true experiences.” 

Botelho described how he and the others involved were able to connect with groups of people, organizations, communities, religious and educational institutions and businesses in each of the three countries, respectively. He went on to talk about the amazing feeling that came with sharing what he had picked up in the foreign countries with his peers as they studied overseas. He even went so far as to say that his experience abroad was one that changed him for the better and made him a more knowledgeable citizen of the world. The others were quick to agree as he made this statement, giving their accounts on how the event would not have been possible without the unforgettable memories they made whilst in Europe.

Cohen then steered the conversation back to the event at hand, going into more detail about how such parties with loud EDM music, games, comfort food and alcoholic beverages are quite common in Latin American countries as well, and that this is the kind of event that breaks cultural boundaries to connect people through activity, discovery and entertainment.

Meyer, on the other hand, advocated the attractiveness of the event to the student body. He explained that people love getting involved on this campus in particular, and that this event has plenty of curb appeal, enough for passersby to take a look at what the groups have to offer. He made note of the fact that a large part of the draw factor of the event was due to the low-stakes atmosphere of stopping by and taking part in the festivities.

This observation was astute, and upon looking around at the bustling, ornamented Great Room, one could see people from many different extracurricular organizations and campus identities meeting for the first time over a fun craft or a sweet treat and old friends celebrating the fact that they followed the sound of roaring music and were able to say they tried something new that day. Overall, the turnout at the event had gone above and beyond what the five co-organizers had hoped, and it seemed “Carnevale! ¡Carnaval! Carnival!” had quickly become the talk of the town.

“I had genuine fun planning [the event] with all of the thoughtful folks around me,” continues Meyer, “and looking around, I can see that the attendees [got] out of this endeavor exactly what we put into it.”

Once the conversation began to wind down, the small group made final remarks about the impact of their event on the school, and Botelho commented that this was indeed the event’s second feature at Muhlenberg, and that this was the best one yet after learning from the trial-and-error sequence of the previous year’s event.

All in all, “Carnevale! ¡Carnaval! Carnival!” proved that attention-grabbing inclusive events that cater to the young spirits of students are quite effective in drawing a large crowd of visitors, and allowing the whole campus to share in the journey of those moved by the sights and sounds of Italian, French and Spanish everyday culture.

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