Cal event pushes Easter eggs and education

At the stroke of noon on the UC Berkeley campus Saturday, the Campanile bells rang out as children plucked colorful plastic eggs from the slightly damp grass, proud parents snapped photos, and an Easter bunny bounced to pop music.

The Cal campus is often a busy blend of activities — but on this particular Saturday, it was all about egg-citing fun for kids, with an educational twist. The promenade beneath the towering Campanile was the site of the 28th annual Eggster, an entirely student-organized event that celebrates Easter and eggs with a focus “on encouraging and inspiring children from underrepresented communities toward higher education.”

More than 1,000 children attended the event, lured by a series of Easter egg hunts and then invited to stay for cultural performances and rows of “learning booths” offering games and snacks. At one popular table, kids lined up to play Mancala, a strategy game with a math bent, against college students. Others offered kids a chance to “make your own money” with crayons and paper and Mayan math, a game for learning the craft of numbers.

“Our mission is to bring kids to the UC Berkeley campus and have them experience the campus and develop an interest in higher education,” said Sarah Tang, co-president of the 10-person student organization, also called Eggster, that organized the event . “A campus can be fun, and we want to show kids what a cool campus this is.”

Most of fun was at the Easter egg hunts — actually a series of hunts — across a road from the Bancroft Library. Given the “go” sign, kids swarmed into the area, picking up hundreds of empty plastic eggs and putting them into Easter baskets or decorated paper bags, then exchanging them for piles of candy at a nearby table.

Many of the participants were far too young to be contemplating their college choices, but they were clearly enjoying their day in the sun, which poked through the clouds late in the morning. James Stanley, who is 2 and lives with his parents in Oakland, smiled as he filled his bag until it overflowed.

Berkeley Project volunteer Ames Lee, 19, of Pittsburg, distributes Easter eggs following a morning rain delay during the 28th annual Eggster event at UC Berkeley on Saturday, April 16, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif.

Yalonda M. James / The Chronicle

“He’s really enjoying the eggs and especially finding the two halves and putting them together,” said John Stanley, his father. James’ mother, Elaine Yau, and father both attended graduate school at Cal and said they wouldn’t mind if James decided to follow in their footsteps.

After the frantic scramble to gather eggs ended and kids and parents lined up get their candy, Jamontae Robinson, of Emeryville remained on the grass with 1-year-old daughter, Ayva. The youngster had just finished participating in her first egg hunt and kept trying to lick the plastic eggs.

Like several parents, her dad said he found the event listed on the Internet on an East Bay parents website.

“It saved Easter,” he joked.

While Ayva is likely not thinking of college and probably won’t recall her first Easter egg hunt, her dad said events like Eggster may help her become familiar with the campus and the idea of ​​higher education as she grows up.

“Maybe she does go to Cal,” he said.

For now, though, he was happy that she got a chance to enjoy being with other kids on what turned out to be a sunny day after early morning rain that delayed the start of the event.

“I love the fact that she gets to interact with other kids,” he said. “And she loves being outside.”

Other participants may have been truly persuaded to consider Cal in their futures, even though the campus doesn’t suffer from a lack of applicants.

Freshman molecular cell biology major Michael Rodriguez, 18, of Los Angeles, distributes Easter eggs following a morning rain delay during the 28th annual Eggster event at UC Berkeley on Saturday, April 16, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif.

Freshman molecular cell biology major Michael Rodriguez, 18, of Los Angeles, distributes Easter eggs following a morning rain delay during the 28th annual Eggster event at UC Berkeley on Saturday, April 16, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif. “We were worried at first because we had to cancel the first session because of rain,” Rodriguez said. “But overall it’s been a big success because there’s a lot of people.” Rodriguez stated 1500 people bought tickets for the event.

Yalonda M. James / The Chronicle

Ronnie Ge, 11, of Morgan Hill, was in Berkeley with his parents to wander around the campus and see what a university is like and where he could go. They happened upon the Eggster event and he took the opportunity to gather some eggs — and candy — and stop by some of the educational booths. The event, and the Cal campus, left a favorable impression.

“I think I would go here if I had the choice,” he said.

The event was organized by the Eggster organization, which recruited almost 100 volunteers, most of them students at Cal or nearby high schools.

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