UC Santa Barbara’s MultiCultural Center hosted a bazaar in collaboration with the Educational Opportunity Program’s Middle Eastern, North African, South Asian Resource Center on April 21.
The Middle Eastern, North African, South Asian Resource Center (MENASARC) Bazaar celebrated the communities of the organization and connected students with shared MENASA backgrounds with student vendors, catered food and free gifts.
The event, much like a traditional bazaar, was complete with an array of student vendors, all displaying and selling their work. The artwork included nature inspired bookmarks, cookies, palm readings, henna art and more.
Fourth-year Neha Rampal was one of the vendors, selling prints and stickers of her South Asian inspired drawings at her booth. She spoke to the importance of reframing the narrative around South Asians through her artwork.
“Growing up, I always saw South Asians being depicted as negative characters,” Rampal said. “I don’t want that for my cousins and whoever comes in my family afterwards, so I started making my own artwork.”
First-year chemical engineering major Anika Jena said the event provided her a sense of nostalgia for familiar artwork while also discovering new artistic avenues the vendors took.
“I really wanted to be in a festive environment that would highlight people of cultures and communities that are similar to mine, and I was excited to witness art that is both new and familiar to me,” Jena said. “I bought six stickers from a feminist, Desi, counter-culture artist.”
When leaving the event, participants received free gift bags filled with miscellaneous items such as incense, candles and lip balm.
Third-year communications and sociology double major Marina Habib, a programming assistant for the MultiCultural Center (MCC), took inspiration for the Bazaar celebration from the traditional origins of the event.
“A bazaar is actually a market and it tends to have rows and rows of little shops with miscellaneous items which you can see first hand here today,” Habib said. “It originated from Persian culture and it means marketplace. It is used throughout the Middle East and it inspired the idea of flea markets and markets all around the world.”
Speaking to previously feeling isolated following the COVID-19 pandemic, Habibi expressed delight in seeing her vision for this event come to fruition and seeing her “dream [come] to life and people actually socializing and mingling and speaking together.”
Touching on the ways in which the MCC and the MENASARC encourage cross-cultural collaboration, Habibi emphasized that events like this bring communities together in solidarity and comfort at UCSB.
“Something like this, we have the Indian food, but we also have the Middle Eastern pastries, but we also have different vendors from different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, highlighting that intersectionality,” she said. “All these labels make you who you are, so people showing their craft and this space being an open space where you see different people from different backgrounds that is what I wanted.”
A version of this article appeared on p. 7 of the April 27, 2023 print edition of the Daily Nexus.