Nicola Simonetti, our Culture Editor, interviews Jacqueline Ashkin and Melissa Jones about Pangea, St Andrews’s new festival celebrating diversity and internationalism.
St Andrews may be a small town, but it surely hosts a variety of cultures from around the world. Hence Pangea, the new carnival celebrating the various cultures of our small three street town. At the start of the new semester I sat down with Melissa Jones (Press Officer) and Jackie Ashkin (Organiser of the Event and Diversity Officer in the Students Association) to find out more about the festival. Set up with the purpose to create a cultural expo that can represent each and every ethnicity, Pangea will take place in Club 601 from November 13th-14th.
Our rich diversity is our collective strength, the Johannesburg Declaration said in 2002. ‘The same could be said about our town’, Melissa Jones continues. ‘Our diversity is what makes St Andrews unique, and I am glad that so many people have responded to our call.’ With participations from lots of different societies (the Hispanic Society, Music Is Love, etc.), and hopefully even some speakers from the University of London, Pangea is expected to be a success. Workshops from the Dance Society and music performances will run on both days, an interactive way of learning about a different culture (Let’s be honest, who does not need a break from the library?). Exhibitions on art, traditions, food and customs will be part of the festival as well.
To celebrate the start of the festival on November 12th, there will be an opening bonfire on East Sands, and to celebrate the end of the festival on November 14th, there will be an after party in Beacon Bar.
The idea, developed at the end of last semester, slowly took shape over the summer. Interested in bringing to light the so-called ‘secondary cultures’ in St. Andrews, Pangea aims to create a friendly environment where students can openly share their opinion on diversities and internationalism. As the name itself suggests —Pangea was a supercontinent that existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras— the carnival recalls St Andrews’s very nature: a melting pot of different identities.
Premiering this year, Pangea will be accessible to all students for a very moderate fee. ‘We are planning to expand the event’ Jackie says. ‘Luckily it will grow over the years and will hopefully involve more speakers. We really value Pangea. It is one of the few carnivals that we have in St Andrews that celebrates Black History Month and the neglected part of contemporary cultures. I feel like my position as the Diversity Officer has been a big help. I felt like I needed to do something more and be directly involved in an event that will gather our students together. I wanted to open a dialogue, but at the same time I wanted to create a student-run event that could raise everybody’s awareness of what they were doing.’ The committee, which includes Melissa Jones, Marnie Adamson, Omar Ali, Kerry Douglas, Puravi Kuman and Jackie Ashkin, is an example of what the festival is trying to achieve. Embracing the credo underlying this project, each member of the committee has brought his or her own vision to the beginning of Pangea.
Even if it is only two days, Pangea is expected to be one of the most innovative and exciting events of the semester. Hoping to see it grow over the next few years, we are thrilled to see what its first edition will be. There is no doubt that Jackie’s dedication will pay off.
Check out Pangea’s Facebook page for more information.
Featured images from Pangea Event.