Caribbean SA Hopes to Connect UB Cultures
Music is blasting through speakers and tables are littered with cultural food. This isn't a typical party - these are members of a college club striving to keep its traditions alive, to educate the community, and to celebrate its culture.
The Caribbean Student Association (CSA) is working to unite students of Caribbean background as well as educate the students of UB about Caribbean culture.
The Caribbean is made up of 24 different countries: the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas are just a few. However, one does not need to be from the Caribbean, or have any connection to the Caribbean to be in the club - it is open to any and all students.
The members might have gotten involved with the club for different reasons, but many of them said that the pageant was what sealed the deal. The CSA pageant is an event that is put on each year, where students become representatives of different cultures through three sections: evening gown, question and answer, and talent.
The club highlights student designers - both from UB and other schools in the area - and allows them to show a few pieces they designed throughout the show.
There is a set of judges who are responsible for crowning the king and queen, along with the prince and princess of the pageant. The king and queen are then responsible for planning the pageant for the following year.
Jordan Little, a senior psychology major, was crowned king and is now community chair of CSA. He believes that the CSA is what changed him from a shy and quiet person to an outgoing and involved member.
The CSA works hard to provide a community for the members, to provide a welcoming place where students can not only make friends, but also be themselves.
"It gives me a great feel of home," said Raycine Taylor, senior interdisciplinary degree programs social sciences major and activities coordinator of the club. "The stories we tell, the jokes we share remind me of Thanksgiving dinner back home in Jamaica. That's why I chose to be an active member."
President Avonelle Brandon, a junior health and human services major, is a native of Guyana, South America. She became involved in CSA during her first year at UB, when a classroom acquaintance brought her to her first meeting. From there, she went on to win the queen in one of the club's annual pageants, was the activities coordinator last year, and was named president for this academic year.
The basis for Brandon's presidential campaign was "making connections." There are plenty of other cultural clubs and organizations on campus, and Brandon hopes that the CSA can begin to bridge the gap between them so that one day they can work together to plan events and promote cultural unity.
The club has already connected with the African Student Association, the Chinese Student Association, and PODER Latinos Unidos. CSA has significantly increased its number of joint meetings with other clubs, joint fundraisers, and they continuously show support at the events that the other clubs host.
Roshiana Bell, a junior international business and trade major, is another activities coordinator for CSA.
"Locally, nationally, and internationally, [we want to educate UB] about the issues that Caribbean countries are facing, including poverty, educational and political issues," Bell said. "Educating the community expands beyond the doors of the minorities and UB gates."
One of the biggest events for the group will be taking place on Saturday, April 14: the Caribbean Carnival. It will be held at Baird Point with a display of costumes, music, dance, and food vendors, all making the event feel like the Caribbean.
"The CSA is a great club to be a part of," Taylor said. "It helps you grow as an individual. You will meet people that will change your life, and also do things that you thought wouldn't be possible."