BY LEAH MORROW
Conestoga College is home to over 1,500 international students representing 73 different countries. Twice a year an entire week is dedicated to celebrating different cultures and promoting unity.
Crowds gathered in the Lower Atrium and Student Life Centre of Conestoga’s Doon campus on Nov. 23 to kick off Cultural Diversity Week. The event has been a tradition at the college for seven years. Each year it is greeted with the same enthusiasm and excitement from students.
“The purpose of this week is celebration,” said Laura Black, Student Life programmer for community initiatives, during her opening ceremony speech.
Kicking off the week was a dance performance by the Condors Bhangra Crew. According to the Oxford Dictionary, Bhangra is a type of music combining Punjabi folk traditions with that of Western pop music.
Everyday from Nov. 23 until the 27 Conestoga students were able to participate in a wide variety of different culture-based events, ranging from all day henna tattoos in the Sanctuary to scavenger hunts. There was also interactive display booths in the Student Life Centre and tips on international business management.
“There are so many different cultures within the school, I think we actually forget that we are not the only ones,” said Jelena Bulatovic, a third-year accounting audit, information technology student, who was celebrating her Montenegrin heritage with a display showcasing what traditions they practise during the holiday season.
Maureen Murphy-Fricker, professor of liberal studies and communications, thinks it is important for students to learn about culture in a hands-on manner.
“In order for students to learn more about culture, instead of just sitting in a class learning the theory of it, they can practise intercultural communication,” said Murphy-Fricker. “They can share cultural information with the public and the public can share information with them. It is a really good way to teach about cultural diversity.”
She said students are exposed to diversity every single day in their social lives and workplaces. She said Cultural Diversity Week helps students and faculty become more open and globally conscious.
“It should be an all-day, everyday event.”