Samosas and stroganoff may not come to mind as traditional barbeque dishes, but last week’s Cross Cultural Barbeque set out to redefine “tradition.”
On Thursday, Aug. 19, Students Educating and Empowering for Diversity (SEED) hosted its annual cookout on Ball Circle. A highlight of Welcome Week, the barbeque commemorates the many origins and identities of the University of Mary Washington’s student population.
And what better way to celebrate culture than with music and food? From K-pop to salsa and spring rolls, students interacted with a spectrum of cultures. The many tables curved around the lawn represented a different student-run organization.
“I’m pleased to see the number of student groups growing. This year we have 20 groups excited to participate, and even more performing on stage,” said Dr. Marion Sanford, director of the James Farmer Multicultural Center.
Each of the 20 groups represented a different part of UMW’s demographic, whether it be the Latino Student Association, Women of Color or PRISM.
“Every organization has something unique to showcase,” Sanford said.
For some groups, “showcasing” took on a more literal meaning. Eagle Bhangra, Alter Egos, UMW Breakers, Voices of Praise and Laughing Dragons Kung Fu all boldly exhibited their onstage talents as crowds gathered in front of Lee Hall.
“This is like having a whole international experience without having to leave campus,” said Dr. Sanford.
Kutoof Alwazir, sophomore English major and member of the Islamic Student Association, reflected favorably on the event, and the light it sheds on different cultures.
“This is my first year behind the counter and serving people food. It’s just nice for people to come and ask about your club, and ask ‘Oh, what are you serving?’” Alwazir said.
At UMW, diversity is not only reserved for rare occasions like these. It doesn’t hurt, of course, to have a plethora of culture on campus, backed by an abundance of supporting organizations at UMW. Vice President of SEED and emmcee of the event, Filagot Taye, explained the goals of her organization.
“What SEED does is raise awareness of diversity and different cultures on campus.”
Girard Bucello, international affairs major and interlink mentor, noted the need for diversity in everyday student life.
“In the humanities classes, a lot of times you’ll be asked ‘How does this relate to you?’ and if you have people of the same background, you don’t get that breadth of experience.” Bucello said. “But I think we’re going to get more of that with events likes this, with a real focus on diversity,” he added.