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Students browsing the various tables at Festival of Communities. (Photo/Kim Ulmanis)
Students browsing the various tables at Festival of Communities. (Photo/Kim Ulmanis)

Festival of Communities Showcases Local Organizations

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UNLV held the Festival of Communities on April 12 to bring the UNLV and surrounding communities closer together.

The festival was arranged by the Office of Civic Engagement and Diversity (OCED) in collaboration with GreenFEST, a festival in celebration of Earth Day and going green.

James Jones, the program coordinator for international student programs, says that since UNLV is in Las Vegas, it doesn’t seem to get as much recognition compared to the world-famous hotels and casinos.

“[Festival of Communities] is a great place to show that UNLV exists,” he said.

Associate Director of International Progams Cherjanet Lenzy said that this event gives the opportunity for UNLV and surrounding communities to connect with one another.

“It also gives opportunities for student organizations to showcase what their about,” she said.

President of the UNLV Game Club, Salvador Villa, said that his group’s table was there to raise funds for the club, and encourage students to “come and check it out.”

Villa said that although there are other clubs that focus on games, the Game Club is a different experience.

“There isn’t a whole lot of unity within games,” he said. “They’re generally very specific and focus on one type of game, such as chess. We [Game Club] like to incorporate all types of games from all around the world, and show a different side to the ‘game cultural.’”

Ben Leavitt, Game Club vice president, said that the club is also a great place to network and make new friends.

“We want to get people out of their comfort zones,” Leavitt said, “We’re all friends here, so there’s no reason to be embarrassed. I commute to school, so it was hard for me to make friends since I went home straight after class. I want others to have an easier time making friendships than I did.”

Game Club Treasuer Joshua Chen said that since the club has a variety of games available, there is something for everyone.

“We let everyone try different types of games to find out what they might like,” Chen said. “They’ll never know if they’ll like it or not without trying, so our goal is to provide that opportunity for all possibilities.”

Leavitt says that they don’t only participate in table-top games, but games such as dodge ball as well.

“The phrase, ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’ describes us really well,” he said. “We help people come in and participate in whatever game they want.”

Director of Service Learning Nathan Hanke said that the festival also allows student organizations to raise funds for various charities such as Relay For Life.

“The festival also allows students to build skills and practice what they’re learning on campus in real-life situations,” he said.

Some of these students are Dani Gamutan, president and exhibit hall director of Sabakon, an annual anime convention, and a current UNLV graphic design major, and Sabakon Vice President Kathy Short, also a graphic design major.

Their table was selling bead sprites, also known as perler beads, in order to raise money for their upcoming Sabakon convention. Bead sprites are small, color pieces of plastic beads that are hand-placed onto a board of pegs that are melted down to form a larger, pixelated image.

“[Sakakon] first started out as a small gathering called Anime Day Vegas,” Short said. “It eventually grew into a larger convention.”

Anime Day Vegas started in the summer of 2011, and was a way for local anime fans to get together while “waiting for the bigger anime conventions in the fall season.”

While the event’s popularity grew, Anime Day Vegas had officially turned into Sabakon as of 2013.

“This year, we ended up renting out the entire Alexis Park Resort convention area,” Gamutan said. “We’re expecting around 2,000 people to attend this year.”

Hanke said that since the Festival of Communities has such a variety of organizations attending each year, it “continues to make the community vibrant.”


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