Cultural Harmony Week addresses themes of trauma, hope

Professor of education Linda Steet, lecturer in political science and international relations and Coorinator of the international relations program Jeremy Grace, assistant professor of structural geology Scott Giorgis and environmental activist and AirForce veteran Colleen Boland at a panel discussion on Tuesday Oct. 17 as part of Cultural Harmony Week. This week features diverse programming, focusing on trauma and recovery. (izzy graziano/knights’ life editor)

The 18th annual Cultural Harmony Week is igniting flames of hope and has brought warmth to the Geneseo campus. The Office of Multicultural Programs and Services coordinated interdisciplinary programs that spanned over several days and addressed issues of multinational importance. 

All of this week’s events fall under the theme “Home and Away: Experiences of Trauma and Hope,” and prioritized different conceptualizations of loss and recovery.

The programming commenced on Monday Oct. 16 with a screening of The Mask You Live In and a subsequent panel discussion on the consequences of hyper-masculinity presented in American culture. Panelists ranged from company project coordinators to professors and athletic coaches. 

Moderator David Sanchez—who works at the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Rochester—opened the discussion on the film by asking for audience members’ reactions. Expressing their consternation with narrowly defined masculinity, students deemed the film honest and resonant, while communicating the sadness and pity that they felt as they watched. 

Upstate New York Community Coordinator for Mankind Project Robert Conway spoke about what galvanized him to confront toxic masculinity in contemporary society.

“My intent is to stop that chain of violence and self-loathing that permeates American male culture,” he said. 

Assistant professor of anthropology Jennifer Guzmán explained the statistical correlation between gender and instances of mass shootings or violence, which motivated her to speak on the panel. Head coach of women’s and men’s cross country teams and assistant track and field coach Dan Moore, meanwhile, emphasized that everyone has their own unique way to help others and implored the audience members to use their platforms. 

Adjunct lecturer in the departments of English and languages and literature Wes Kennison, moreover, suggested viewing gender dynamics through an international lens.

A panel held in Bailey Hall on Tuesday Oct. 17 titled “War’s Impact on Natural & Cultural Resources,” addressed the impact war has had on natural and cultural resources. Among the panelists were professor of education Linda Steet, assistant professor of structural geology Scott Giorgis, lecturer in political science and international relations and Coordinator of the international relations program Jeremy Grace and environmental activist and Air Force veteran Colleen Boland.

The panel began with a presentation by Steet, who focused on the archaeological catastrophe that occurred in Iraq primarily at the start of the century. She emphasized the worth of many of the historical artifacts, which have been looted and destroyed by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State group. 

Grace discussed the effect that resource depletion has on human societies globally. His presentation expressed the urgent need for modern society to make lifestyle changes to save money and decrease environmental stress.

“It’s going to take an attempt on our part to change our consumption patterns and significant resource transfers are going to be necessary,” he said.  

Giorgis and Boland focused on the negative environmental impacts of war, especially the depletion of natural resources. Boland urged the audience to write to their representatives, sign petitions, and become more aware of the seriousness of climate change. 

Artist and assistant professor of art at Wayne State University Steve A. Prince delivered an address titled “Rebirth: The Trials of Nicodemus” as part of both Cultural Harmony Week and the All-College Hour lecture series on Wednesday Oct. 18. 

Prince’s art highlights themes of mourning and rebirth that evoke traditional African American art and emphasizes the transformational potency of the visual medium. To supplement his talk, Prince showcased a series of his pieces via a slideshow presentation, which featured prints as well as charcoal and graphite drawings. 

While in Geneseo, he will coordinate a Bear Fountain Revival Project that will adorn the Main Street fountain with print works symbolic of destruction and rebirth.

This Cultural Harmony Week also featured an art display in Milne Library from an alumnus

Evan Goldstein ’17 installed his series “The Last Ordinary Light: Picturing the American Present” to reiterate the themes of Cultural Harmony Week. During the summer of 2016, Goldstein drove over 12,000 miles around the United States. Throughout the trip, he took photographs of people and landscapes that he saw during his journey. The variety of photographs, ranging from sunsets to portraits, reflects the diversity he found throughout the U.S.

“Diversity is community. It’s about learning about each other’s differences, respecting them and embracing them, which is something that we should be aware of every day,” Director of Student Affairs Alberto Alonso said. 

Cultural Harmony Week continues with Price’s community art project workshops on Thursday Oct. 19 and Friday Oct. 20, a screening of The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On on Thursday Oct. 19, the Bear Fountain Restoration event on Friday Oct. 20 and the Intercultural Dinner on Saturday Oct. 21.