Cultural Harmony Week examines leisure, play

Geneseo’s 13th-annual Cultural Harmony Week was still a success, given cancellations due to Hurricane Sandy, according to sophomore Andre Herring, a member of the Cultural Harmony Week committee.

The theme of this year’s Cultural Harmony Week was play and leisure. Coordinator of Multicultural Programs and Services Fatima R. Johnson chose this theme “to engage the community in a different way with something that everyone can relate to,” Herring said.

According to Herring, the purpose of Cultural Harmony Week is to promote cultural awareness through the chosen theme. He said that the committee’s goal is for students to benefit from the experience while gaining a new understanding of themselves and others.

“We have to think inside ourselves and appreciate all different types of people as well as being able to have fun and express ourselves in different ways,” Herring said.

“Some people don’t do leisure and play properly or safely, so we wanted to present the ideas in a safe way as well as from a broad cultural perspective,” Herring added.

As part of the festivities, a screening of the international film Miss Bala took place Oct. 25.

The film tells the story of Miss Bala, a Mexican beauty queen who becomes a pawn of a drug cartel. She clings to her dream of becoming a beauty queen in a time when Mexico was dominated by organized crime.

Associate professor of Spanish and Chair of the Languages and Literature Department Rose McEwen briefly introduced the film, providing an overview of Mexican drug wars. She also held a discussion after the screening.

“For me, the most unsettling part of the film is the corruption of cops and even upper-level military officials,” junior James Loveland said. “How can people feel safe or secure if they can’t even trust the police? Whom can they turn to?”

On Monday Oct. 29, keynote speaker Cheryl Kilodavis spoke about her self-published book My Princess Boy, written for her youngest son Dyson. The event was titled “My Princess Boy: A Tale of Acceptance” and highlighted Kilodavis’s true story of accepting her son’s self-expression.

Kilodavis said she knew that her son “would gravitate to daughters during play dates and dress up with crowns and pretty dresses.”

According to Kilodavis, her book’s title came from an instance when her son said, at two-and-a-half years of age, “I’m a princess boy, Mommy.” After many unsuccessful attempts of what she called “soft redirection” to steer her son toward trucks instead of princess dolls, she said she reached her turning point.

The book gained much attention and landed Kilodavis and her son on “The Today Show.”

“The world is ready to have a conversation about this,” Kilodavis said.

“I think Cultural Harmony Week impacts the student body in a unique way,” Herring said. “It’s able to bring a message in [an unconventional] way, and it intertwines various topics that normally don’t come together and presents the topics in an effective way.”