Intercultural dinner celebrates globalization, community

Students crowded the entrance to the Alliance for Community Enrichment’s annual “Intercultural Dinner: Around the World in 3,” an event that acted as a culmination of Cultural Harmony Week and the inauguration of President Denise Battles on Saturday Oct. 24.

The week’s events garnered an estimated total of 900 participants, with the dinner raising a total of $2,187.25 to be donated to Doctors Without Borders.

A number of student groups were involved including Black Student Union, Chinese Culture Club at Geneseo, Japanese Culture Club, Korean American Student Association, Latino Student Association, Pride Alliance, Shakti and Women’s Action Coalition.

The dinner was themed around the topic of globalization—CHW’s topic of the year. Dishes such as WAC & Cheese, Biriyani, fried chicken, taquitos and guacamole, fried rice and kimchi fried rice were served. The dinner has served as an ending to CHW—a week that showcases the different cultures represented at Geneseo in efforts to augment or support what students were learning in their classrooms—since 1991. Assistant Dean of Students for Multicultural Programs & Services Fatima Rodriguez-Johnson explained that the theme was decided in November of 2014 at the end of the 15th Cultural Harmony Week.

“Globalization was a topic students and faculty thought was contemporary and important to discuss at Geneseo,” Rodriguez-Johnson said. The dinner began in 1991 when Kelly Clark—Geneseo’s Diversity Director at the time—saw that every culture group was having their own dinner. To bring Geneseo’s different communities together, Clark created CHW because “it was a good place to showcase the interconnectedness between these cultures,” Rodriguez-Johnson said.

In spirit of their globalization motif, the Intercultural Dinner made the expression of the intersections between different cultures a major point for this year’s CHW. The connections between the different aspects of diversity at Geneseo were made as student groups worked together to showcase their art in the form of films, dance and conversation.

“Students are seeing the intersections of these aspects of identity and putting them on a platform for people to experience,” Rodriguez-Johnson said. “JCC and WAC worked together to find the intersections between gender and culture and we saw aspects of Afro-influences in the dances presented by LSA.”

The dinner acted as the last event for the presidential inauguration of Battles, who gave a speech about the importance of diversity at Geneseo and how it will change in the upcoming years. Rodriguez-Johnson noted that she looks forward to the implementation of the State University of New York system’s core values regarding diversity across SUNY campuses.

“The events this week gave [Battles] a good feel and background on how much we live out our core value of diversity at Geneseo,” Rodriguez-Johnson said. “We have a diversity plan that looks at recruitment of faculty, staff and students, retention efforts, as well as globalization and an increase in international students.” The changes are to be implemented in the coming years.

Rodriguez-Johnson emphasized the importance of both Cultural Harmony Week and the dinner. “I hope that people really walked away with an increased awareness of the impact globalization has in their day-to-day lives,” she said.