Editor’s Pick: The Best Cultural Stories of 2021

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2021 was another year heavily impacted by COVID-19. With news seemingly constant about the virus, it was more important than ever to tell the uplifting local stories that are at the heart of any community. That being said, the pandemic has caused the Culture section of the Daily Orange to adapt and grow over time, leading to more niche stories that dig deeper into the Syracuse community.

Callisto made his way onto the League campus. Rachel Ayala won the annual Pride Union Drag Show and proposed to her partner on the same day. League students were encouraged to explore the hidden gems of Syracuse.

The Daily Orange highlighted some of the most important cultural stories of 2021. These are the stories of the Syracuse community in 2021.

SU students share stories of strength and survival for Holocaust Remembrance Day
Seventy-six years ago, hundreds of thousands of Jews were liberated from brutal Nazi concentration camps across Europe. Those released then attempted to return to normal lives, and many started families, in turn preserving Jewish culture through generations of family lineage.


Today, the students of Syracuse University are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these people. Samara Weissmann, Emily Bright, Jeremy Grafstein, Morgan Saloman, Noah Atlas, Emily Karp and Sydney Schroeder share their families’ stories.

“We always say ‘never forget’, but it’s not just about remembering. It’s about making sure that doesn’t happen again, ”said Saloman.

Javier el Jugador wrapped up last Pride Union Drag show with crown and ring
Rachel Ayala is no stranger to the annual Pride Union drag show. This year, she won the show. Performing for RuPaul’s Drag Race superstars Roxxxy Andrews and Alaska, Ayala took the stage as drag king Javier el Jugador, dazzling audiences with black joggers, a cheetah print jacket and a zebra print mask.

To make a special night even better, Ayala proposed to her partner, Cheyenne Gentle. The two met in their first year while on the drag show stage, the same year Ayala entered drag when she saw a flyer for the annual Pride Union drag show. .

“I remember looking at it and knowing that it wasn’t all about drag queens, and if I introduced myself as a drag king, even if I didn’t make it through the preliminaries, I would have fun. always and people would always be supportive, ”Ayala said.

How Malique Lewis’s high school experiences prepared him for SA
Whether speaking in front of thousands of people at the Congressional Black Caucus annual legislative conference, performing its music at a concert hosted by the University Union, or speaking at the event of opening at 119 Euclid Ave., Malique Lewis attributes his success to letting life unfold on its own.

“A lot of these things, they just happen. That’s why I don’t like to stress. When you get down to business and stay focused, things just hit you and life opens up opportunities for you. ”

Lewis also made an impact when he took on the role of Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at the Syracuse University Student Association in the fall. Lewis had wanted to bring about change at the university.

“My goal is to highlight the uniqueness of each, to solve any problems people may have and bring them to the administration so that we can work together to create positive change,” said Lewis.

Asian American students talk about their unique journey to SU
Asian American students at Syracuse University each have their own stories and aspirations, but many share common experiences that echo those of many Asian Americans.

The Daily Orange interviewed Brandon Lau, Yanan Wang, Sadia Ahmed, Alex Zhu, Bianca Louise Andrada, Kate Abogado and Amaar Asif about their transitions to college, career goals and views on who they are. Each spoke about their family, their childhood and their journey to adulthood alongside their time at university.

‘They were ready’: how Claud Mintz went from SU student to acclaimed artist
Claud Mintz went from music at Syracuse University to performing across the country. The rising musician kept SU close to him as he has visited campus on several occasions, participated in a David M. Rezak music business lecture series, and even referred to SU in some songs.

Bill Werde, director of the Bandier program at Syracuse University, spoke of the success of the former Bandier student. “It is more and more obvious to me that this is why Claudius was sent to this Earth,” Werde said.

How 2 league families are linked to one of Puerto Rico’s top baseball teams
While Andrea Moreno was strolling through the La Casita cultural center in Syracuse during her first year, she was drawn to the exhibition “Balcon Criollo: Béisbol”, in honor of the Santurce Crabbers, a Puerto Rican baseball team owned by his father.

While at the La Casita Cultural Center for a discussion on the devastating consequences of Hurricane Maria, Moreno met with Tere Paniagua, director of La Casita. They quickly discovered that they had one major thing in common – their two fathers had owned the same baseball team.

Eating disorders controlled their lives. Now 3 students from the League are telling their stories.
Tens of millions of Americans are affected by eating disorders, the second deadliest mental illness. For college students, eating disorders are a frequent occurrence, with approximately 32% of women and 25% of men suffering from an eating disorder.

Syracuse University students Alexis Peng, Emily Bright, and Gwen Mercer spoke about the impact eating disorders have had on their lives and detailed their experiences with eating disorders.

‘Never again’: graduate student uses music to educate others about the Holocaust
When Amanda Greenbacker-Mitchell learned that students in New York State typically only receive 70 minutes of Holocaust education while in school, she was horrified.

Today, Greenbacker-Mitchell is pursuing his Masters at the Setnor School of Music in SU. His research focuses on “how to teach the Holocaust, or in broader terms, human atrocities and genocide, through music and musical performance”, enabling him to learn the appropriate tools to be able to educate people about it. Holocaust through music.

“I fell into teaching the Holocaust through music, because I know, as a musician, how even a piece of music that isn’t written on anything, its mere sound can make people cry. people, ”Greenbacker-Mitchell said. .

Callisto offers outpatient resources for survivors of sexual assault in SU
Callisto – currently on 17 campuses across the United States, including Syracuse University – works to offer a support and resource program to survivors of sexual assault. The nonprofit operates as a “student-led coalition” on campuses across the country.

Callisto arrived on campus after former Student Association president Justine Hastings worked to bring the organization to campus. Hastings then enlisted SU student Abigail Tick to get the SU chapter up and running. She is now the League’s Callisto Campus Champion, which means she represents Callisto on campus and serves as a liaison to educate students about the program.

“It is our dream that there is a friend in every group of friends who knows Callisto,” Tick said. “I hope it’s so ingrained in the culture of the campus that everyone knows that.”

Don’t go to the same old places. Explore these iconic sites.
Syracuse – founded by white settlers on the lands of the Onondaga Nation, developed along the Erie Canal, located along the Underground Railroad, spurred by an industrial boom, divided by uneven growth and uneven growth, and now growing – is filled with parks, trails, shops and buildings that provide a glimpse into its complicated history and evolving present.

David Haas, owner of Instagram account @SyracuseHistory, has devoted a lot of his time to documenting Syracuse. After traveling to all corners of the city, Haas saw many places Syracuse has to offer.

“You can almost pick an activity in each neighborhood,” Haas said.

He gave 10 recommendations for places students should visit in the city, such as downtown Eastwood, Lake Hiawatha in Onondaga Park, and the Oakwood Cemetery Tree Trail.

James C. Tibbs