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University Fusion Festival celebrates unity in diversity


Jessica Nelson
28 August 2018

With more than 40 nationalities represented at Southern Cross University, there is a lot to celebrate at the University’s Gold Coast, Lismore and Coffs Harbour campuses this week.

The annual Fusion Festival is back again for its 12th year, with students, staff and the University community coming together to celebrate and learn from many diverse communities, with the aim of furthering intercultural understanding and communal harmony through cultural exchange and social connection.

Coffs Harbour kicked off celebrations on Tuesday 28 August, with Lismore on Wednesday 29 August and Gold Coast campus on Thursday 30 August from 11.30 am to 3pm. Coffs Harbour highlights included a traditional Smoking ceremony and dance, Bollywood, Thai and Kurdish folklore dancers, world music, African drumming and a national cultural dress fashion show.

Lismore's Fusion Festival will be launched by Southern Cross University's Vice President (Global) Mr Monty Singh and a welcome to country will be given by respected Widjabal Bundjalung Elder Aunty Irene Harrington. Lismore event organisers Rob Cumings from the University’s Equity and Diversity Office and music graduate Kate Stroud said Fusion Festival was a highlight of the year on campus, with students performing cultural dances and the University community encouraged to wear their national or cultural dress - or purple attire to celebrate Wear It Purple Day, the annual LGBTIQA+ awareness day.

“This festival is all about celebrating each other and showcasing cultural heritage so the community can experience and appreciate and better understand each other, there is so much strength and unity in celebrating diversity,” Mr Cumings said.

“The program of activities at every campus is amazing, with the event growing larger and larger each year as more students get involved.”

Get your dancing shoes ready for Calypso Memento, a lively outfit of current students and graduates from the University’s contemporary music degree who will get the party started from 11.30am. Other highlights at the Lismore Campus include PhD candidate Liliana Andreas Hernadez performing a traditional Mexican dance; a performance from Irish / Australian songstress Áine Tyrrell; and a mash up music, performance, costume, dance, art, comedy performance with Splendour in the Grass favourites Monkey Monkey Shake Shake.

There will be a series of bite-sized Couch Conversations providing festivalgoers with an intimate insight into the performers’ lives and others who are part of the diverse University community, with the opportunity to experience a deeper understanding of cultural backgrounds and experiences.

Gold Coast campus Fusion Festival co-organiser Stephen Garvey from the University’s Equity and Diversity Office said this year’s event would be bigger and better than ever, co-sponsored by CoastRs Student Association and the Study Gold Coast Student Hub through a partnership with Study Gold Coast.

Cultural Indigenous dancers and a Welcome to Country will kick off the Gold Coast celebrations on Thursday, followed by Southern Cross University student performance groups including a traditional Nepalese dance, Indian Dance, Bangladesh dancers, the Pacific Island Dance group, Mexican cultural dress demonstration and tunes from the Southern Cross University Ukele Club.

Other community performances include a cultural exchange from Tahiti, Cook Islands, Hawaii and Samoa called the Mixed Polynesian Revue, a traditional ‘Toko-ton Taiko’ Japanese drum performance and workshop, and the Black Mantis Kung Fu Lion Dance followed by an International Dance-A-Thon after party into the evening hosted by CoastRs Student Association.

The Fusion Festival is a free event, open to Southern Cross University students and staff - and to the public. Come along for cultural sharing and conversations and to join in the celebration of cultural diversity at the University and within our communities.