Students explore campus diversity at the USU Carnaval

April 25, 2024

By Teagan Davidge

Earlier this month, the University Student Union held its annual Carnaval. The multicultural event brought together different communities to participate in various activities and food sampling experiences from around the world.

Many student groups performed in the Plaza Del Sol and Grand Salon, including Jishin Taiko, the Filipino American Student Association, the Indian Student Association, Ballet Folklorico Aztlan and Salsa Libre.

Students at USU Carnaval

Students at USU Carnaval. Photo by Briana Walden.

“I really enjoyed seeing the diversity of the people coming to the USU and watching the performances, but also staying throughout the event. It made me feel happy that we have a diverse campus,” said Jenny Phan, USU Programs event assistant and Carnaval co-lead. “I have known the diversity does exist but seeing everyone all at once recognizing and appreciating one another was awesome.”

The USU has a long tradition of inviting student clubs and organizations to perform at the reoccurring cultural celebration. 

“It was an interactive event where students were able to see the performances and then try it out for themselves to experience different cultures. Most students are narrowed in on their culture, so they got see what different cultures experience,” said USU Programs event assistant and Carnaval co-lead Naylea Gomez.

After some of the performances, attendees participated in a dance workshop where they could learn the traditional styles themselves.

“I’m Mexican, so I’ve only gotten to experience some of my culture. Salsa Libre was not new to me, but I’d never seen Jishin Taiko or Tinikling. That was really fun to see, experience, and be able to join in the workshops myself,” said Gomez. “Overall, I really enjoyed it.”

Phan and Gomez worked side by side to plan and coordinate Carnaval this year, and found they connected over shared childhood experiences despite cultural differences.

“As we were planning this event, Naylea and I realized we had a lot of similarities, not only within our culture, but within the group we were surrounded by,” Phan said. “We wanted the students to take away a part of us as well as the whole USU Programs department.”

The co-organizers reflected that participants found themselves having these moments of connection with each other as well. 

Many students stayed the full eight hours to be able to try all the food being offered. Nachos, falafels, egg rolls and samosas were just some of the foods provided by the USU throughout the day.

“During the event, we heard feedback from students like, ‘I used to have this as a kid!’ or ‘I haven’t had this in forever!’ They got to try new things as well, and really seemed to enjoy it,” Gomez said.

Several creative activities were also available to students, such as keychain making, tote bag block printing and fan decorating. Matadors could take these souvenirs home as memories to look back on and reminders to encourage them to visit Carnaval again next year.

“I think that being more involved with the community at CSUN is what we want, especially for next year. That way, we can bring even more people together on campus,” said Phan. “We wanted students to feel like they could immerse themselves and be understanding of other people’s backgrounds. We also want to extend a sense of belonging so students can recognize what CSUN is all about.”

Performers at USU Carnaval

Performers at USU Carnaval. Photo by Briana Walden.