USG hosts neighborhood block party

The USCxCommunity Block Party brought together the student body and members of the community Sunday in Hahn Plaza. Organized by the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Governments, the free event aimed to provide participants with an afternoon of food, games, entertainment and more.

Brianna Thorpe, USG director of community affairs, has been preparing for the jam-packed day with her committee since last October.

“We’ve been working hard on the Block Party for several months now,” Thorpe said. “It’s actually been a huge learning curve for me since this is a new role we had for Advocacy, but Program Board has given me tremendous support with putting in paperwork, figuring out how to send in expense and publicity requests and other logistics.”

Thorpe has also used her connections in the community to recruit local vendors and artists to help out with the event.

“I’ve lived in South Los Angeles for around five years, right on Central and 33rd, so many of the people coming to the Block Party are actually connections I have in the community,” Thorpe said.

The event took place from 12-3 p.m. Among those Thorpe invited to the event were Zumba instructor Bianca Miyazaki-Jovel, spoken word artist Azmera Davis, the Multicultural Greek Council, and Councilman Curren D. Price Jr.

Bianca Miyazaki taught a Zumba class at 1 p.m. for an enthusiastic crowd of dancers.

“I’ve been teaching Zumba at USC for four years now, and I’m one of only two official Zumba ambassadors in the state of California,” Miyazaki said. “This is actually the first time I’ve worked with USG, and I’m so happy to contribute to such a great event for the community.”

Besides the featured Zumba class, music and dance performances and guest appearance, there were also raffles, face painting, a bounce house and free food.

Alexander Garcia, a USC Hospitality worker, said he found out about the Block Party just yesterday.

“I happened to see a flyer by chance and thought it would be a great opportunity to bring my family,” Garcia said. “My 8-year-old daughter Jada comes with me to USC events all the time.”

USG Senior Director of Communications Rachel Thundat was part of the marketing effort that went into spreading the word about the Block Party.

“For USC students, we created a Facebook page, contacted residential advisors and student leaders and posted on different organizations,” Thundat said. “For the community, we emailed different departments such as Student Affairs and the School of Social Work, who have connections in the local neighborhoods and asked them to forward the information.”

USCxCommunity Block Party is intended to not only benefit the surrounding neighborhoods, but also to raise students’ awareness of the community.

“At school, we exist in a bubble, and sometimes we forget to step out of our bubble and interact with others,” Thorpe said. “I hope the Block Party allows people to reach out and become friends with those they normally wouldn’t have the chance to meet. Understanding each other starts with interacting, and that’s what we’re doing here.”