Global Gala highlights different cultures at GVSU

GVL / Courtesy -  Starr Doan

GVL / Courtesy - Starr Doan

Jenny Adkins

The Kirkhof Center Grand River Room was turned into a culturally collaborative festival Friday, Nov. 17, for the Global Gala presented by the Iota Chapter of Delta Phi Lambda Sorority Inc. The annual gala featured performances from a plethora of Grand Valley State University cultural clubs and teams, all assembled by the sorority.

The gala, organized by Delta Phi Lambda members Starr Doan and Pactra Chab, filled the Grand River Room with a photo booth, Chinese calligraphy and food. Between intermissions to raffle off prizes and introduce acts, performances from a variety of different cultures rotated on stage.

“Global Gala is a cultural showcase where we show all of the cultures we have at Grand Valley and all of the diversity we have on campus,” Doan said. “It’s cultural, but it’s also educational because some people come and they’ve never heard or seen Taekwondo, or they’ve never seen anyone belly dance before.”

Chab expressed that the Global Gala is held to counteract a shortage of cultural programming that reflects just how diverse GVSU is.

“Grand Valley is a really diverse school, and there’s really not that many events out there to showcase this, so we have been booking Global Gala for the past 10 years,” Chab said. “We’ve gotten a lot of comments and a lot of people really like it, so we’ll keep bringing this to the community. They do really appreciate the diversity that we show.”

To both organizers, the idea of community is a key motivation for the show. With that in mind, the gala had intermissions incorporate a “Minute to Win It” challenge to raise money for the Children’s Healing Center, a cause Chab said resonated well with the sorority.

“We usually try to find local charities to donate to, and our chapter wanted to reach out to children,” Chab said. “I’m also part of the Health Information Management Society, so we do work closely with them, and I felt like we could relate to them as well.”

In a sense, the event’s success can be credited to the turnout of the community on and around campus. 

“Without the community and without the students on campus, we really don’t have anything,” Chab said. “So, we put the Global Gala on for them.”

The community certainly came out to support the festival. Between planning beforehand and keeping everything in order during the gala, Doan said she felt assured when she stepped on stage due to the size of the turnout

“I was busy running around at first getting everything started, so I didn’t really see everyone walk in,” Doan said. “Then I ended up being the master of ceremony for the night, so I got on the stage and was like, ‘Woah, there are so many people here.’”

At the end of the day, Doan said, the event was about communicating the range of cultures present on campus. She hopes the gala served to help build connections between people by promoting intercultural understanding. 

“I hope the audience took away the diversity that we have and we help bring everyone together,” Doan said. “There’s so much happening in the world right now, and I would hope that we educate others about others’ cultures. … 

It’s about educating so the audience is able to talk to other people of other cultures and understand where they come from as well.”