Fall formal, an international festivity

On the evening of Friday, November 11, approximately 750 Calvin students made their way to Frederik Meijer Gardens for the first formal of the academic year. The weekend programming team, comprised of Calvin students and faculty, hosted the fall formal to unite the Calvin community and give students the opportunity to dress up and have an enjoyable evening. The theme for the fall formal was Global Gala. The inspiration for this specific theme came from Calvin College’s mission as part of the FEN (From Every Nation) document as an opportunity for all Calvin students to embrace their culture. Attendees were encouraged to adorn themselves with formal attire either of their own culture or to respectfully adopt that of another. Attire from European nations such as Austria, Pacific Island cultures like Tahiti, and eastern Asian countries were worn by some of the students in attendance. Senior McKinley Lewandowski, one of the many in charge of organizing the formal, stated “by extending the opportunity to wear formal attire from anywhere, [the weekend programming team] gave a time and space for students to enjoy the diversity among Calvin students in the context of exploring, communing and dancing.” As stated by Calvin freshman Johannah Ko, “it was great to see the diversity of the student population coalescing at a community event.”

In addition to the encouragement to adorn cultural attire, the venue decorations incorporated the Global Gala theme. Frederik Meijer Gardens had previously set up their Christmas tree displays, which were each decorated with ornaments that represent a Christmas tree from another nation in the world. Also, there were flags in the concourse near the dance floor. Each flag represented the nations that students on Calvin College’s campus hail from. The flags were “a beautiful reminder that Calvin’s influence reaches far beyond just West Michigan,” said Lewandowski.

The night was filled with music and dancing, as well as other attractions off the dance floor. Students enjoyed various decadent desserts and punch in between dance numbers. Others were able to take a self-guided tour of the enclosed gardens, such as the tropical, Victorian and carnivorous gardens. “I really enjoyed touring the gardens. I had never been to Frederik Meijer Gardens before, so it was great to have the opportunity to view them,” said first-year student Sarah Catlin. Many of the students also enjoyed posing for pictures in front of the Christmas trees with their friend groups, significant others or those from their residence hall.

Many Calvin students and their guests enjoyed showing off their formal attire as well as their dance moves. For those who organized the event, it was meaningful to see the joy of the students either touring the gardens or spending time with friends. “As a student, I love being able to see my work enjoyed by students whether they are my close friends, acquaintances or strangers. It reminds me how much I cherish and love this school,” said Lewandowski. Calvin sophomore Jesse Brink summarized the formal by saying: “It was lit.”