Students come together in the wake of disaster

The rain couldn’t stop the UC Lower Lounge from coming alive last week when the Council of International Students and Organizations [COISO] held the Island Relief Cultural Showcase to raise money for the Caribbean islands that were damaged by the recent slew of hurricanes.

The rhythms of reggae, Hawaiian and African music had everyone on their feet; many sang along to Sean Paul’s “Gimme the Light” and Kevin Lyttle’s “Turn Me On.” The show started off with a Dance Production Club performance that warmed up the crowd for more to come. Halfway through the act, the crowd was on its feet cheering and encouraging the dancers “to represent.”

Freshman Elvis George said he was passing by when he was drawn in to the fun and excitement.

“I loved the dances, and I think what they are doing to raise money for people who need it is a good thing,” George said.

Kirstin Ellis, who danced for Hui Aloha, said she also liked the different dances.

“I love the fact that so many cultures can come together in one place in unity, having fun together,” Ellis said.

Vivek Patel, event chair, said the money donated will be given to the Caribbean Tourism Board, which will use it toward hurricane relief efforts.

“The night was a success, but I believe we would have made more money if we kept it outside,” Patel said, referring to the original plan to hold the event on the UC Patio. “We had everything set up, but the rain came.”

However, Patel was pleased that so many people came together for the cause.

“[People] came from COISO, and we knew of some dance organizations on campus,” Patel said. “We are close to them so we just emailed them, told them what it was about, and they were happy to help.”

According to Patel, the UM community has raised over $1300 to help hurricane victims through various fundraising events, including the showcase.

Pavithra Raj, freshman, thought the show was well organized and all the dancers were great.

“I loved the Indians and the Filipino dancers,” Raj said. “KAOS was great too.”

The night ended with poignant testimonials from students who were affected by the hurricanes, while photos of the devastation were projected in the background.

Saran Stewart, president of the Caribbean Students Association, spoke about her personal experience with the hurricanes and reminded everyone of the real reason for gathering together that night.

“The islands are considered a third world,” Stewart said. “But the culture is first world when it comes to heart.”

Judith Hudson can be contacted at