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Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

Cultures collide at the Bellaire International Student Association Fest

Senior Saachi Gupta was one of the many Bollywood Club dancers. Their performance consisted of a mixture of traditional and contemporary dances such as: Kathak and Bharatanatyam.

Bellaire International Student Association hosted its annual BISA Festival on April 17, featuring 16 different performances and 19 different food booths. There was a packed auditorium filled with teachers, students, friends and family, most holding thin glow sticks that shone through the dark room.

“The BISA festival crowd is always like the best Bellaire in my opinion, because they’re so loud, so energetic and always cheering.” senior Saanvi Sadana, vice president of BISA.

BISA sponsor Micaela Segal De La Garza normally helps organize volunteers, count club tickets and run rehearsals but left for maternity leave right before spring break. This left BISA to get two temporary sponsors, English teacher Elizabeth Chapman and Spanish teacher Esther Galo.

“It was a lot more student-led than normal because we knew how things ran,” Sadana said. “Being the only senior on the officer team, I had to kind of step in and play that [teacher-like] role a little bit more and make sure things happen like they normally do. The officer team was so great and everyone worked together to make sure it went off like normal; it was really exciting.”

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The BISA Festival is normally the Thursday night before the Good Friday holiday, however this year the holiday was near the end of March. Though, moving the BISA Fest to April caused another conflict. While it was originally planned to be on April 18, and later moved to April 19, it was rescheduled again due to the ongoing theatre show “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” so they had to move the BISA fest to April 17. 

“I wasn’t expecting [the big turnout of attendees]. I thought: it’s a Wednesday night school night, not that many people might not come,” Sadana said. “It was unconventional, but we still had the same large turnout as normal years.”

It was the Greek Club’s first year as a club as well as participating in BISA. The BISA performance was a dance that they performed at the Houston Greek Festival a couple years ago, so practicing only took them a week. 

“It was just so cool to see all of the different cultures,” senior Alexandra Maglaras, Greek Club president, said. “We’re definitely hoping to do a dance with both boys and girls next year just because this year we kinda threw something together last minute. But there’s a lot more fun and exciting dances that we can choose from if we can get some more members.”

At the Greek Club’s food booth, they sold gyros, chips and hummus alongside a little cookie dipped in chocolate, which all sold out pretty quickly. However they did struggle setting up their stand, as they didn’t have two separate groups for performing and selling—a “rookie mistake.”

“Also, none of us realized how many people came to BISA,” Maglaras said. “We definitely need a little more time to prepare next year.” 

For the Arabic Club, BISA was a challenging yet exhilarating experience. In the first semester, members voted for a difficult performance and started practicing in November. 

“There was a very big skill gap because a lot of us have and haven’t done a BISA dance before,” senior Laith Elkousy, Arabic Club member, said. “Because a lot of them aren’t very coordinated– not gifted with beats or rhythm yet– it was kind of hard to get everybody together, so we needed [a lot of time before BISA.]”

Elkousy said that one of the biggest hurdles was that the performers only got the dance correct until the last minute, giving little time to tweak and perfect. However, despite the stressful scenario, it “definitely paid off.”

“[At the beginning of the] performance, we got to [exchange glances at each other] and the crowd, everyone was smiling,” Elkousy said. “Even though it was a small two and a half minute dance, it was a big deal for us. We worked so hard for this and it was just fun being with friends throughout the whole thing. It’s kinda sad that it’s all over.” 

When it was Elkousy’s first year performing a dabke (a Levatine folk dance) with his friends, he was nervous because there were only four dancers and they hadn’t performed before except for the leader. But Elkousy says the experience was definitely worth it. 

“Don’t be discouraged if you have a difficult performance you want to do or if you’re too embarrassed to go out and perform,” Elkousy said. “It’s gonna pay off, even if the performance was not perfect or if the performance wasn’t difficult. It’s not a representation of its value, it’s really just the fun that you had.”

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