Multicultural Week scores another hit in its sixth year

Above: Members of York’s Afghanistan Students Association show off traditional costumes during Multicultural Week 2008

York students celebrated Multicultural Week for the sixth consecutive year with hundreds of volunteers, more than 50 cultural associations, club displays, stage shows and foods from all over the world, Feb. 4-7.

This year’s festivities kicked into high gear on Monday, Feb. 4, with an opening ceremony in the CIBC Lobby of the Accolade East Building. Within an hour, the corridors were filled with more than 200 culturally clad York students to launch the program. The frigid February temperatures and mounds of snow proved no deterrent for this enthusiastic crowd as they cheerfully danced during the annual Parade, led by the ever-popular York Samba Squad.

Left: Members of the Croatian Students Association parade through the Accolade East Building

The parade finished an hour later at the Food Court in the Student Centre. The next event, the Global Fashion Show, featured hundreds of York students showing off their cultural attire. “I have never seen so much life and so many smiles at York,” said one fourth-year administrative studies student. “This week definitely brought the York community together.”

Even as the temperatures outside plummeted, the events on day two served to warm up all those in attendance. Easily the most eagerly anticipated of all the events, the Food Fair was graciously hosted at The Underground Restaurant. About 2,000 students, staff and faculty members enjoyed tasty delights from around the globe.

A new and exciting addition this year was the DJ World Cup, a musical contest that kept more than 400 students dancing from 2 to 5pm to world rhythms and sounds. “You know when people say, ‘no one jams during the day’, well, that’s not true,” said fourth-year political science and South Asian studies student, Zehran Khan. “York jammed and jumped during the day and it was awesome!”

Right: Members of the Macedonian Students Association brave the cold during the Multicultural Week parade

Countries and cultures were on display in the Accolade East building throughout Wednesday, Feb. 6 and Thursday, Feb. 7. Touring the new Global Village display was akin to globetrotting in a few short strides. York’s cultural clubs were in full display, complete with extravagant booths, posters, banners, flags, music, dancing, native dress and all manner of cultural mementos. Spirit and electrified enthusiasm were in surplus supply by exhibitors and visitors alike throughout the two days as clubs educated their fellow community members about their cultures and belief systems.

Another new addition this year was the thought-provoking forum, Dealing Diversity, which took place in the Student Lounge in Accolade East. The forum discussed multiculturalism in Toronto with special guest speakers Walter Perchal, social science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts and Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, and Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, political science professor in the Faculty of Arts.

“Organizing Multicultural Week 2008 was an honour and a truly delightful experience,” said Bushra Wali, signature events director for york is U, the student alumni program, and primary organizer of the event. “The love, support and dedication from york is U and participating clubs throughout the journey was gratifying.”

Throughout the four days, approximately 11,000 students participated in Multicultural Week 2008 and the program was covered by several cultural media, including Omni Television. All participants received a "Passport to the World", in which they collected visitor stickers during events. Once their passport was filled, they were able to enter a raffle to win exclusive prizes, including a round-trip for two to Montreal.

York’s Multicultural Week is internationally recognized and the two-time award-winning program is one of the University’s largest events – aiming to connect students, staff and professors at York to celebrate, acknowledge and admire each other’s uniqueness, differences, diversity and, more importantly, similarities.

“Multicultural Week is a week to bring everyone from different countries together to share, enjoy, learn and appreciate something new about each country’s unique music, food, literature, art and other things,” said third-year health & society student Tania Rashid. “It’s a great opportunity for all York students to come together, celebrate diversity and ‘get’ culture.”

The renowned stage shows closed out Multicultural Week with clubs staging elaborate performances in celebration of diversity. This was the final competitive event for cultural clubs who were judged throughout the week in other categories, including the parade, their Global Village display and the Food Fair. The first place overall winning club received $500 and second place received $250 for student cultural programs. The winning clubs are:

Most Outstanding Club Overall

  • First Place: York University Tamil Students Association (YUTSA)
  • Second Place: Bharatiya @ York

Most Outstanding Club, Parade

  • York University Tamil Students Association (YUTSA); and
  • York’s Sri Lankan Students Alliance (YSLSA)

Most Outstanding Club, Fashion Show

  • East African Students Association (EASA)

Most Outstanding Club, Food Fair

  • York University Tamil Students Association

Most Outstanding Club, DJ World Cup

  • Trinidad and Tobago Students Federation (TTSF)

Most Outstanding Club, Global Village

  • York’s Sri Lankan Students Alliance; and
  • Bharatiya @ York

Most Outstanding Club, Stage Performance

  • Middle Eastern Students Association