A celebration of diversity

York’s version of a “group hug” could be witnessed this week during the highly successful second annual Multicultural Week festival. The centre mall of York Lanes was awash in colour and sound during the celebration, which has proven to be a very popular event for members of the York community.

Left: The Multicultural Week parade

“The students love the opportunity to put their cultures on display,” said Jeremy Greenberg, manager of Student Alumni Programs, Office of Alumni and one of the event organizers. “They really enjoy being able to showcase their food, culture and flags and having the York community embrace them.”

This year’s event, said Greenberg, has proven to be even more successful than last year’s. “We had more than 60 student tables and over 100 volunteers working on the event. Some have put in 75 hours in the last few weeks working to get things done.”

Greenberg cited the $25 deposit student groups had pay to secure the tables as one of the factors in the celebration’s success. “It means the tables were full every day.”

Right: Centre stage dancers

Another innovation was the Multicultural Week Passport. “The passport was new this year,” said Greenberg. “Students had to take their passport to as many displays as possible and collect a name, the signature of a student staffing the table and record one significant fact about the country. Students could then turn in their passports for an opportunity to win a prize.” Organizers handed out all of the passports printed. Prizes were to be awarded following the end of the week’s celebration and after the returned passports had been verified by volunteers.

Students began the week by parading through York Lanes and through lecture halls dressed in traditional costumes. A centre stage located in York Lanes provided a venue for an ongoing collage of dance, cultural and musical performances.

Left: The food fair

The week wrapped up with an international food fair where visitors to the booths could sample favourite dishes and purchase products from the different countries represented.

“There is a universal feeling of acceptance of the different cultures,” said Greenberg. “It goes back to a better place, kind of a utopian world where we all exist in harmony, students from different cultures sat in the audience cheering other students on while they performed on the stage. It really has been fantastic!”