Global Connections, a subsection of the Wisconsin Union Directorate, pulled out all the stops for their annual Multicultural Fashion Show Sunday. Going on for over three years, the show brings together students from all over the world as a means of representing cultural diversity.
“It’s a nice way to celebrate people’s cultures,” said Farhat Bhuiyan, director of Global Connections. “It is so easy to focus on education in the classroom. What we do with this fashion show is teach students that there are other ways to learn.”
With representation from countries and cultures that transcend national borders, the Multicultural Fashion show is a way of embracing cultural diversity, as well as a tool for representing groups of people that don’t otherwise get acknowledged, or even seen, according to Bhuiyan.
“There are so many cultures on this campus that are hidden,” said Associate Director of WUD Global Connections, Manasi Mohan.
The show’s main objective was to display these cultures and some of the traditions that are associated with them to the public. In return, however, it also became an engine of empowerment and confidence in embracing the participants’ own identities.
Mukadas Abdullah and Carmen Daoud, both models in the show, dressed in floor length gowns embroidered in intricate patterns unique to their cultures and lineage. The two joined the show after witnessing a lack of representation of their respective cultures on campus.
“All you can see are two or three major cultures when you walk around. It is kind of a disappointment to not see my own,” Daoud said.
It was through the show that Daoud was able to meet others from her culture, and connect through something central to her identity.
Though the show had fewer participants and attendees than previous years, those who were there emphasized how important it was to have events like this on campus.
UW-Madison international studies professor Sarah Stefanos emphasized that events outside of the classroom give a face to these “hidden” cultures. According to Stefanos, events like the fashion show allow the UW-Madison community to truly embrace the cultural diversity students come in contact with every day.
Fashion was on display at Sunday’s event, but it certainly was not the key feature, according to Mohan. For both the models and attendants, the diverse range of identities and histories were the focus of the show.