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Clayton State celebrates
diversity with midday performances

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The lake at Clayton State University is usually a place where people listen to sounds of quacking ducks and Canada geese.

On Thursday afternoon, those familiar sounds were replaced by merengue and salsa music, as the Latin American band, Tahino, kicked off the school's Multicultural Middays celebration in recognition of the diversity represented at CSU. The multicultural-events series will continue through the end of October and coincides with National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

Lakiesa Cantey, assistant director of Campus Life, said the series is just another way of bringing the different cultures on campus together.

"This is something the Department of Campus Life is doing to expose the students to multiculturalism and diversity," said Cantey. "I think it's important so we can understand the differences between the cultures, but still know that we have commonalties. We need to respect the cultures that we come into contact with on a daily basis."

Clayton State has been recognized by the weekly news magazine, U.S. News and World Report, as being the most diverse baccalaureate college in the Southeast. Last year, the university's 6,043-member student body was 54 percent black; 29 percent white; 5 percent Asian; 5 percent multiracial; 5 percent unknown; 3 percent Hispanic; and 0.2 percent Native American.

Tahino's performance was the inaugural musical performance at the university's new, lakeside amphitheater, which was built this year. Aricely Saez, a senior political science major from Puerto Rico, said public cultural events like Thursday's performance had been missing on campus.

"I love it," said Saez. "I needed a break and it's like a form of relaxation. It helps with not being homesick as much. Everybody needs to come together as a human race, not as different groups," Saez added. "When they have events like this, people come together."

Tahino's performance took listeners on a musical tour of Latin America, highlighting merengue from the Dominican Republic, salsa from Venezuela, and the cha-cha-chá of Cuba. The band, consisting of drums, electric piano, and guitar also played several popular favorites, such as "Guantanamera" (Girl from Guantánamo), and "Macarena" (Girl from the Macarena neighborhood of Seville, Spain).

Afolabi Giwa, a junior vocal performance major, said the new outdoor amphitheater provides a new place for musicians to exchange different types of music.

"The changes are different, the chords are different," said Giwa. "If you are original, you can incorporate that into your own playing. As music majors, we are going to start playing out here more.

"I was wondering what [the amphitheater] was going to be, but now that we have it, we can enjoy music and enjoy nature," said Giwa.

The members of Tahino have played several educational concerts of Latin American music at Spivey Hall. Percussionist Isaias Paris said this was his first time "playing for the ducks," but he said he enjoyed the performance.

"It was a really good audience," said Paris. "People are just able to walk through the campus and come by. When they are up there asking for songs, you know that they are really appreciating it."