Rangeela presents cultural stories through song, dance and music


Photo by Michael Hsu

Last Friday and Saturday nights, the Covenant Fine Arts Center auditorium hosted two full houses for the annual performance of Rangeela, Calvin’s international student variety show which featured over 240 students representing over 10 different countries through song, dance, theater and dress.

This year the theme of the show was “Simply Cultural” and emphasized “learning to appreciate the simple everyday moments in our cultures,” according to the event’s Facebook page.

“[The theme] alludes to the fact that many of the things that we do or say are different but the reason for it is simply culture,” said junior Beulah-Joy Kruis, one of the leaders of the Philippines act and Rangeela committee member. “Although the colors and dances and singing and everything included in our acts is a deep part of our cultures, each culture is so much more than that and is integrated seamlessly within our everyday lives.”

With Rangeela being an almost fully student-run event, it opened up several leadership positions to students. The director of this year’s performance, senior Sarah Harefa, used her past involvements in Rangeela and her interest in cultural arts to guide the show to align its mission and theme. Harefa was born in Indonesia and grew up in Qatar; she remembers the stories attached to cultural festivals and looks at Rangeela as a big storybook.

“I see Rangeela as a gift from international students to Calvin community,” said Harefa. “It can be just a wonderful annual sold-out show or it can be a time of sharing. Sharing stories, sharing their perspective, sharing their life — that can be powerful for both performers and audience.”

The sharing is made possible by the act leaders, who are international students who show a desire to exemplify their culture. Latin American act leader and participant Judy Kwon expressed how her pride of her background and desire to share her culture motivated her to take on a leadership position.

“I think that Rangeela is a real cross-cultural activity because people from other ethnicities can join and act and learn more about a culture and its people by taking part in an act. Rangeela is one way for students to get together in unity on the same common ground which is our cultural background,” said Kwon. “I think that also grew a little bit. I had a valuable experience of team work, leading and relating to people one on one.”

With 10 percent of Calvin’s population being international students, there was a wide variety of acts representing the cultures of Korea, Japan, the Philippines, China, Indonesia and the cultures several African and Latin American countries. Following the acts was a fashion show, where students could display outfits from other cultures.

“I think Rangeela is a great benefit for the Calvin Community,” said Kruis. “For the international community here, it’s especially great because it’s our chance to kind of show off our different cultures to the community and share the vibrancy with the rest of Calvin. Also, students who are not part of an act’s culture are usually very welcome to join.”

Although participating in Rangeela required hours of dedication and practice, and an openness to accept new cultural experiences, many students chose to embrace a part of the world on campus through joining the cross-cultural production.

“Rangeela has been one of my favorite Calvin experiences,” said first-year student and Korean act participant Stephanie Rietveld. “I made a ton of new friends and I learned a lot of things about other cultures. The fan dance was unique and I loved getting to know the people involved.”

The show was a hit with students, verified by the two sold-out shows — one student even remarked: “The show was so good that I couldn’t take a pee break.”