A multicultural market

World Bazaar offers students an opportunity to explore different cultures


West African cotton bows, bronze bracelets, colorful world maps and ethnic desserts were only a handful of items featured at the UB’s Fall World Bazaar.

The Fall World Bazaar aims to celebrate diversity and educate students about different cultures at UB. This year’s bazaar featured a range of UB organizations and vendors from the Buffalo community, including the UB Muslim Women’s Council, the Latin American Student Association, Native American Crafts, Designs by Dovi and Girls African Market.

The bazaar was held on Nov. 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Union lobby.

Michael Venturiello, a higher education administration graduate student and a student programming coordinator for the Intercultural & Diversity Center (IDC), began planning UB’s World Bazaar at the beginning of the semester.

Diversity can include differences in everything from race to gender, to sexual orientation, Venturiello said.

“When people think of diversity, they don’t see how inclusive it is,” he said. “I think they see it as limiting in a way to a certain group.”

Students tend to associate with people from their own culture, rather than with people from other cultures because they feel a sense of comfort, according to Venturiello. When students don’t need to explain elements of their culture – such as language, dress and hand gestures – they feel a sense of a mutual understanding, he said.

The Intercultural & Diversity Center aims to provide opportunities for students to simultaneously celebrate their own culture and come together as a multicultural group.

For UB’s Muslim Women’s Council, participating in the World Bazaar was an opportunity to gauge students’ perceptions of Islam and to break stereotypes.

Montaha Rizeq, a senior history major and head of the UB Muslim Women’s Council, said she learned a lot about the students at UB.

At the bazaar, council members asked students, “Do Muslims worship a black rock in the desert?”

Even though monotheism is one of the main principles of Islam, many students were unsure of how to answer the question, Rizeq said.

The council also served ethnic desserts from countries such as Mexico and India to illustrate that people across the world celebrate Islam.

“We wanted to teach people that Islam does not equate to Arab and Arab does not equate to Islam,” said Samiha Islam, a freshman computer science major and member of the council.

The UB Muslim Women’s Council hopes to continue reaching out to students and facilitating dialogues on Islam.

To learn about Islam, students should have one-to-one conversations with Muslims rather than searching the Internet, according to Rizeq.

The council will hold, “Ask a Muslim Women” on Friday, November 21 at the IDC, located in 240 Student Union. This workshop will give students the opportunity to ask questions about Islam they may otherwise feel uncomfortable asking, Rizeq said.

The Gender Institute also utilized the bazaar as a unique opportunity to engage students in discussions on diversity, said Tina Zigon, a graduate assistant at the Gender Institute.

Zigon had interesting discussions with students at the bazaar about how gender norms vary across cultures.

“I’m from Europe,” she said. “Men wear Capri pants, and no one bats an eye. Here, people say, ‘He’s gay’.”

The IDC collaborated with the Center for Student Leadership and Community Engagement and International Student Scholar Services to plan the World Bazaar.

The IDC organizes one World Bazaar every semester. The bazaars are IDC’s largest events. This year, the IDC will spend a total of $3,500 of its $20,000 annual budget on the fall and spring World Bazaars. Students are admitted to the bazaars free of charge.

The IDC held UB’s first World Bazaar in Fall 2013. Originally, UB celebrated African, Native American, Latino, Asian and LGBTQ cultures in five separate bazaars throughout the year. Now, the IDC celebrates multiple cultures in one bazaar to promote inclusiveness, Venturiello said.

“Rather than categorizing different kinds of diversity, we wanted to be more inclusive of all different types of diversity,” he said.

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