Diverse cultures unite for International Week

By Zahra Jaferi

Two keynote speeches from Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows highlighted this year’s International Week, themed “One World, Many Voices,” which ran from March 26-30.

Robert Cogan and Pozzi Escot, composers and faculty members at the New England Conservatory, expressed their views of internationalism through a speech entitled “Across Mountains and Oceans: Science and Art and Us” to an audience of approximately 18 at the Princeton campus’ Bristol Chapel on March 28.

“We inhabit parallel universes, unimaginable revelations and unbreakable horizons,” said Cogan.

Cultures throughout the world vary greatly, according to Cogan.

“Suddenly I realized that in addition to the heritage I was taught about, there are all these other heritages and cultures,” he said.

Cogan added that humans have a choice to ignore or embrace the world’s
differences.

“We have the entire earth and its human heritage available to us,” he said. “They are ours either to celebrate or to devastate.”

Cultural differences also exist in each society’s vision of science, according to Cogan. He noted that science belongs to everyone, and is not unique to only the East, West, North or South.

The composer added that although music is diverse, this diversity is dissipating.

He demonstrated the unique elements of different cultures’ music through a series of
spectrographs, or musical charts, on Mozart, Japanese music, a 10-minute prelude to Vaughner and a Native American Buffalo Dance.

Cogan then commented on the disappearance of diverse music. After showing the Buffalo Dance spectrograph, he said that the destruction of this culture and music was “an embarrassment to all of us.”

Quoting Ernest Hemingway, Cogan underlined the difficulty of respecting diversity.

“A thousand years makes economics silly and a work of art endures forever, but it is very difficult to do and now it is not fashionable,” he said.

Escot also explored the concept of internationalism, as well as “understanding the possibility of who we are.”

In order to illustrate how diversity is essential, she drew four geometrical shapes on a chalkboard and asked the audience how they fit together. When united, they formed a house.

“All of us need a house in one way or another,” she said.

One way to embrace the world’s differences is to appreciate clothing styles of other cultures, according to Escot.

“Once I was wearing a North American Indian shirt, Chinese pants and Israeli shoes,” she said. “That, in a sense, you can say is
internationalism.”

Both Cogan and Escot intrigued audience members.

Melissa Dennis, Westminster Choir College Student Life coordinator, said the talks were a “great chance to see different perspectives on music from two different people who are knowledgeable in the area.”

Junior Katherine Kamm from the Princeton campus agreed.

“It was inspiring,” she said. “I didn’t know that this visual aspect of music is such a growing and expanding field.”

Other International Week activities included a global business panel, study abroad information sessions, foreign film showings, student panel discussions on service learning trips to Santo Domingo and Jamaica, and a sculpture exhibit honoring the late Ukrainian sculptor and artist, Peter Kapschutschenko.

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