Feb 26, 2008

Reber-Thomas brings sights ad sounds of New Orleans to Liberty

by Anna Blevins

Parades, street performers and multi-colored beads kicked off the first Jazz-Land Jamboree at the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall.  The jamboree was held Tuesday, Feb. 19 to celebrate New Orleans culture with food, fun and entertainment.
The staff decorated Reber-Thomas in an array of purple and gold, the colors of Mardi Gras.  Street performers, caricaturists and balloon artists lined the “streets” of New Orleans to add to the jazz-land appeal.  The music group Kase Project provided a relaxing atmosphere with their jazzy style, and the chefs prepared food with a Mardi Gras theme.  Even a talent show took place, involving various students with unique talents. 
Elizabeth VanWingerden, the marketing manager for Sodexho, said that often Christians have a negative connotation of Mardi Gras. 
“We are educating students on the culture,” she said in response.
She said that even the Mardi Gras beads can be connected to something negative, however, at this Mardi Gras everyone gets beads to celebrate the uniqueness of New Orleans.
All of the marketing managers for Sodexho gather together each year to vote on a theme, according to VanWingerden.  This year’s theme is “The Great American Road Trip.” 
“Our focus is on different cities and their culture and food,” said VanWingerden, and this week was New Orleans.
The goal of each of the themed nights is for students to have a good time. 
“We love to have fun and want to change up the feel,” VanWingerden said.
The various themes allowed Sodexho to go “out of the box” and to show “customer appreciation.”  The student response so far has been positive, VanWingerden said.
“The change in atmosphere,  the lighting, the greeters passing out beads and the food was good,” freshman Max Andrews said.   As for the talent show, “I only saw the first act, but I really did enjoy the music.  My friend and I found ourselves tapping our feet to the music and singing along.”
“My favorite part was the music,” said sophomore Katrina Kurtz.  “As college students you can’t always afford to go out for something special, so it is nice when they bring it to you.”
“It was a nice background to eating.  It was something special and nice to sit down with friends and enjoy the atmosphere,” freshman Rachel Shisso said.
The Jazz-Land Jamboree brought in a multitude of students who enjoyed the fun-filled, cultured atmosphere. 
“I really appreciate it, and not just because it is a change in atmosphere, but sometimes things can get monotonous during school and studies, and showing up to eat the normal dinner can turn a day around when you find out that there’s a party,” Andrews said.  “I know a lot of other universities do not care too much about the students, but Liberty does, and I appreciate the work they do to make the experiences better.”
The next stop in the Great American Road Trip is Miami.
“Salsa on South Beach” will come March 27. 

Contact Anna Blevins at acblevins@liberty.edu.

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