Mosaic Night is a time for international students to embrace their authentic selves while tapping into their roots and bringing awareness to their fellow students regarding their cultures that are oftentimes overlooked in today’s society.
Sophomore Sumana Wiig was a participant in Mosaic Night, as she showcased her Indian roots alongside seven other girls in a dance to the songs ‘Makhna’ by Asees Kaur, Tanishk Bagchi and Yaseer Desai and ‘Desi girl’ by Sunidhi Chauhan, Shekhar Ravjiani, Vishal Dadlani and Shankar Mahadevan. Wiig stated that Mosaic Night simply made her feel close to home and gave her the opportunity to reflect on her origin.
“Mosaic Night was an opportunity to celebrate culture and the different traditions that we have through our gifts and talents,” Wiig said.
In addition to the performance aspect of Mosaic Night, there were also different foods that were prepared to represent the diversity of cultures within the Taylor community.
Sophomore Katie Ito, who cooked for MuKappa, a cabinet dedicated to missionary kids, shed light on the environment that she and other fellow students created, which allowed attendees to eat, enjoy and celebrate the diversity of culture represented through different foods.
“I think people are really nervous about entering into people’s cultures,” Ito said. “It’s always a struggle for people to know what is okay and what is acceptable, but food is such a natural and easy thing. You just show up and eat, and the questions will just come.”
Mosaic Night did not just consist of food, song and dance, but also the reading of poetry written by fellow Taylor students. Freshman Mikaila Taylor represented Native American heritage through an original poem entitled “A History Lesson.”
“I always try to bring some type of educational approach to my poetry,” Taylor said. “The main focus of my poetry is to bring a different awareness. It should get you asking questions. It should evoke something.”
Taylor continued to express the meaning behind her poetry, as she stressed that her goal is for people to place themselves in the shoes of others and to therefore think about multiple perspectives rather than just their own.
The poem, “A History Lesson,” is special to her because it was written to reflect on those whose lives we have not lived.
“I wasn't there when Native Americans had to walk the Trail of Tears,” Taylor said. “I wasn't there when my African American ancestors were slaves and in shackles, but I'm affected by those things today.”
Mosaic Night consisted of approximately 14 acts, some of which were showcased through video if the performers could not be present to perform live due to COVID-19. Social distancing guidelines were put into place to maintain the safety of those who performed and attended the event. There was hand sanitizer in front of every entry door along with students checking the temperatures of each individual before they were allowed to get food and be seated for the performances.
Camryn Lien, co-president of the Multi-Ethnic Student Association, pointed to the collaborative effort of the eight cabinets within OIP and their contributions to Mosaic Night. MESA took the lead in preparation for Mosaic Night, but the other seven cabinets, ISS, MECA, MuKappa, LSU, BSU, ASIA and Gospel Choir were all involved in creating the framework for this event.
Lien also highlighted the importance of Mosaic Night because of the opportunity that it provided for students of different cultural backgrounds.
“It’s a special night because it provides an opportunity for international students, minority students, and TCKs to have a stage without having to worry about fitting in,” Lien said. “Many students have to hold back their cultures and identities here on campus, so Mosaic Night is an event that welcomes these students and gives them the stage to speak their truths.”
Mosaic Night was more than just a production filled with distinct foods, poetry readings, and the performances executed through song and dance. At its core, Mosaic Night was designed to be a platform for students from all around the world to feel known, accepted, and embraced at Taylor University.
“There really should be no them and us, there is. So, it was good to just break down that barrier and say, ‘This is our show,’” Taylor said. “This is our time to connect with others who are different from us, but who are the same on the inside.”