Rice’s graduate student population represents the largest international cohort, with more than 1,200 Owls hailing from 74 countries. And each year, the Graduate Student Association (GSA) Culture Night brings the best of those cultures to the Graduate Commons outside Valhalla for an evening of food, festivities and fun.
The performances at this year’s event included Korean dancers and Mexican mariachis (Rice’s own Mariachi Luna Llena), the food hailed from Bangladesh and Brazil and dancers filled the courtyard until 10 p.m., when the hundreds of attendees finally headed home. But, as always, GSA Culture Night was more than just a feast for the senses.
“I was very happy with the turnout, and was really glad to see how many people stayed for the cultural performances and trivia,” said GSA President Jason Guo, a bioengineering grad student. “Culture Night is not just about the food — which is always delicious — but also about better appreciating the richness of all the cultures around us at Rice, so it was great to see people so engaged and supportive of their friends and peers.”
Students from the Korean Graduate Student Association, the Latin American Graduate Student Association, the Black Graduate Student Association, Indian Students at Rice and the Rice Pakistani Student Association staffed the dozens of booths at the event.
Each dished out everything from dinner to deep dives into their countries’ cultures through informational posters, detailed maps, wide-ranging conversations and, in the case of the Rice Chinese Students and Scholars Association, sweets and skin care masks.
Pressed to pick her biggest highlight of the night, Megan Chang, a bioengineering grad student and media director for the GSA, couldn’t choose just one.
“My favorite part of the evening was seeing so many people enjoying themselves and celebrating the cultural diversity of our Rice graduate student community,” she said. “GSA Culture Night is one of my favorite events that we put on the entire year.”
Guo, now in his fourth year at Rice, agreed.
“I’ve loved Culture Night every year that I’ve been at Rice,” he said. “And I can’t wait to see it come to fruition next year.”