Diversify Yourself

The Spectrum

Black and white, unlabeled world maps sat on a table in the Student Union on Tuesday morning. Students were asked one question: where is Singapore? Most pointed to India, the Middle East, or Australia - few knew where the country actually is.

The Intercultural and Diversity Center (IDC) celebrated Diversity Week at UB from March 26-30. Diversity Week allows students to explore the different cultures on campus and learn how students can bring their own culture to UB. Buffalo is ranked in the top 20, according to the Princeton Review, on the list of college campuses with the most diverse population.

"Diversity Week is a collaboration among various departments and students groups on campus," said Phyllis Floro, associate director of the IDC and Director of Student Activities. "They come together to plan events and work closely to celebrate and embrace the benefits of being at a diverse institution."

Throughout the week, IDC prepared workshops on religion, beliefs, and activism, documentaries on students' experience with disabilities on campus, as well as discussions on different perceptions of beauty around the world.

The International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) collaborated with the IDC to have a Global Coffeehouse in the SU. It was an open-mic event filled with poetry, singing, tea, coffee, cookies, and cake.

As of this semester, UB has a total of 3,723 international students, according to Eric Comins, coordinator for student programs and international student advisor at ISSS. Since there are so many international students, Comins and the ISSS aim to promote diversity.

Many cultural student association groups set up tables in the SU, with their flags and charts displaying pictures of their culture. Flyers were also handed out to promote upcoming events.

The clubs included the Filipino American Student Association, Pakistani Student Association, Singapore Student Association, and six other cultural clubs.

"Diversity is really important to Singapore Student Association because just like the U.S., Singapore is also a melting pot of so many cultures," said Shane Cleland, a senior business major. "We want other students to know what our culture is about, try out our food, and understand our language."

According to Cleland, many students are unaware of the different cultures and traditions that compose the student body. As a result, clubs are given the opportunity to express themselves and encourage other students to join or explore other cultures during Diversity Week.

"There are so many things I didn't know about the Indian culture," said Veronika Wade, a senior art history and communication major. "At a trivia game yesterday, I learned that India has 22 languages."

The trivia game took place during the Diversity Week kickoff; students who were able to answer correctly won cups, cards, and many other prizes.

Wade also attended the "Eye of the Beholder," a cross-cultural discussion on beauty that took place in the IDC. She learned that every culture sees beauty differently in terms of skin color and features.

"I feel proud when I see my [Bangladeshi] culture being represented at UB," said Rauwolfia Mannan, a junior biology major. "Some people don't know where I am from or where my country is, so Diversity Week really helps encourage others to learn about where I come from."

When students leave UB, they will be walking into a global world, regardless of their profession. Taking advantage of an institution that takes such pride in its diversity and learning lessons from those that surround us is crucial to succeed in the future, according to Floro.

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