September 21, 2020

Conestoga students are educated while having fun during Cultural Diversity Week

BY MIKE VIELMA
“When we are celebrating cultural diversity it gives the expectation that we are a welcoming environment,” said Ryan Connell, Student Life programmer.
Conestoga’s Cultural Diversity Week was held from Nov. 12 to 16 and featured the colours and smells of many world cultures.
Everyday there were numerous displays that showcased different countries ranging from Saudi Arabia and Portugal to China and Nigeria. The displays included posters featuring various information and facts about a country, some traditional food or beverages and even some activities that related to that region.
Students could chow down on Portuguese pastries, German Werther’s candies, Arabic dates and various other treats.
There were opportunities to learn or practise Arabic at the Saudi Arabian station, horoscopes were read at the Chinese booth and there were chances to Gangnam Style, a Korean pop-culture dance, at the South Korean display. Almost every display had something to draw students in and keep them involved and interested.
Some displays had games and activities to attract people.
Ravikumar Patel, a first-year marketing student and vice-president of the South Asian Students Club, participated in the week’s festivities with a booth set up on Nov. 16 where students could get henna tattoos drawn on their arms and hands.
Henna is used to dye skin, hair, fingernails, leather and wool in India, mostly during festivals and celebrations.
Patel said he loves being able to share his roots and heritage with other students.
“I’m really excited about this week. We really feel proud to let other students know about our own countries.”
Even the Respect Campaign had a display set up with various games to participate in. Their big hit was the Respect Wheel.
Students could spin the wheel which would stop on the name of a continent. The student would then try to answer questions about that specific area. Students who answered correctly were entered in a draw for a chance to win a gift bag from the Bookstore.
Connell said the wheel was a great way to start a discussion with students and to get them thinking about other cultures.
He also said it was a good way of getting students to check out the other displays featuring the various countries because they were already somewhat interested.
“The whole point of the Respect Campaign is we want to provide education on the diversity of the students who go to Conestoga and how important it is to be aware of the diversity,” Connell said.
He added Cultural Diversity Week allows the learning process to be fun, interesting and educational all at the same time. It brings the college community together as a whole and makes people more comfortable to be themselves.
The South Asian Students Club is run in a similar way.
“Most of the club members are international students, so they don’t have any family here. So that’s why we do parties, so people can get to know each other and feel more comfortable living here,” Patel said.
The club hosted a Diwali celebration party on Nov. 7 in the Sanctuary. Diwali is known as the festival of lights and is a five-day Hindu festival.
All students were welcome to partake in a night of dancing, eating and enjoying others’ company. There were about 200 people in attendance.
Patel plans to host another similar event in second semester. He said more people usually come out to the second party because they heard how amazing the first one was from other students.
Connell said, “They (South Asian Students Club) are a very inclusive group. So, even if you’re not South Asian, they are very welcoming of students from other cultures to come into their group and learn more.”
“We’re definitely making positive strides where students feel safe to come out and share who they are and be proud of it,” Connell said.
The next Cultural Diversity Week will be held from Feb. 25 to March 1, 2013.