Office of Multicultural Affairs is located in Alumni Hall
By: Chey Ward
We have all experienced what the University of Dayton community has to offer. However, by attending a cultural event, I discovered another facet of the UD community that I had no idea existed.
The Latin potluck, which is part of Hispanic Heritage Month, allowed me to meet people that I’d never seen on campus before and be introduced to groups that I had never heard of. The event was sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, El Orgullo Latino, the Society of Hispanic Engineers, and the Hispanic Student Business Association.
The students in these groups amazed me with their enthusiasm and generosity. Each dish was prepared by a student, and while many people may have been upset about doing extra work, they were excited to go above and beyond to share their culture with all of us. They brought an amazing energy to the room, not to mention some delicious food.
I was really interested in why the people that coordinated this event chose each food. This was the first question I asked Carlos Stewart, Assistant Director for Student Services in the office of Multicultural Affairs.
Through his work, he has seen a very different sense of community, or the lack thereof, felt by some students at Dayton. Therefore, he tries to provide a community within the walls of the multicultural offices to students with very unique cultural backgrounds.
While embracing those students from around the world, Stewart simultaneously provides an inclusive environment for individuals who want to gain more cultural exposure. Food is a vessel used to give people a sense of home.
Stewart’s answer expanded beyond that. He feels that sharing food is a way of showing people you care about them. It’s a pathway to the soul and a representation of love. He felt that food is one of the central features of not just the Hispanic community, but all communities.
I truly believe that attending events like these at UD allows us to have a more well-rounded college experience. I experienced culture shock by walking into a room in a building on the campus that I walk through everyday.
I was struck by foreign smells of Mexican spices, the fast paced whirlwind of the Spanish language, and even a different mix of ethnicities and races than I am used to seeing every day.
It was intimidating and scary, but at the same time, interesting and rewarding. By the end of the hour-long affair, I felt at home in that room full of people that I had never met before and who many would consider to be very different from me.
The feelings that I experienced are exactly what Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Larry Burnley, wants all UD students to feel when they attend cultural events on campus. As we casually chatted over our plates of food, I simply asked him what his thoughts were on the event.
He said events like these prepare people for the real world by exposing them to culturally diverse situations and allowing them to gain skills that can be applied in the workforce, such as communication, curiosity, and confidence. People may have come for the free food, but we all walked away with an entirely new perspective.
I challenge you all to think about community in a new light. Because it is such a common topic of discussion on campus, it is easy to feel like we all know what community means, or simply to not care at all.
Community is supposed to mean something different for everyone, and if you are ever questioning that fact, stopping by any of the events put on by the Office of Multicultural Affairs will help you to remember.
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