By Luke Varnell
On Monday, October 26, the First Annual International Karaoke Night was a success. Despite it being a Monday, there was more than fifty solo and group acts, representing languages from Arabic to Swahili. Judging the diverse group of contestants, the distinguished panel of judges consisted of community members, musician Linda Heck and Gary Sturgiss, leader of the Sewanee Chorale. Along with them were three students from the artistic leaders program of the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra: Mia Burrass (C’18), Hannah Garey (C’19), and Margret Landers (C’19). The event itself was far more than a mere collection of acts, however. Sitting quietly in the room, you could begin to hear the scraps of other languages floating through the air. You would feel the spirit of understanding and cooperation that haunted the room. This spirit was one that represents a new chapter in Sewanee’s history, a chapter that promotes diversity and awareness while still celebrating our shared interests. Being in that room, all silly costumes and extra credit aside, you could feel, see, and hear the love and appreciation for other cultures that can only truly be found by learning the language spoken there. We are not naïve. People went to this event for extra credit, but they stayed for the culture, discussion, and opportunity to learn. With little else to say, the evening was one to remember.
Beyond the educational purposes, and between the different languages, there was a sense of comradery, that despite the fear of singing a different language in front of peers, all of us were in this together. It reminded us of the reasons we were attending Sewanee: to learn, to prosper, and to do all of it with in a community, and by the end of the night, some of us even won prizes. As for the solo acts, there was a tie for first place between Andy Kim (C’19), singing a German song by Sido, “Astronaut,” and Conoly Koontz (C’19), singing The Gipsy King’s Spanish version of “Hotel California.” Second place went to Miller Harrington (C’19) singing “La Seine” by Vanessa Paradis in French, and third went to Keike Howe (C’18) singing the Spanish song, “Yo No Quiero” by Jesse y Joy. In the group acts, first place went to Leqi Zhang (C’18) and Xin Chen (C’17) singing the German children’s song by Joy Guttman, “Schnappi”; second place went to Sarah Board (C’19) and Sarah Thompson (C’19) singing “Mi Primer Millon” by Bacilos in Spanish; and third went to Yin Agbontaen (C’18) and Mansell Ambrose (C’18) singing Christina Aguillera’s Spanish song, “Ven Conmigo.” A big shout to everyone who attended, and to the Center for Teaching, E.L. Kellermann Language Resource Center, and Mellon Globalization Fund for funding the event.