Week of diverse culture planned for NIU students

By Sean Leary

This coming week NIU students will have the opportunity to experience the world’s cultures through Unity In Diversity week. The event is actually part of the larger picture – before the year began NIU President John La Tourette deemed the 1990 academic year as Unity Through Diversity year.

Throughout the week, different nationalities will present aspects of their cultures through shows, presentations and lectures.

“We want people to experience the variety that Unity has to offer,” said Zainal Ahmad, programming coordinator for Unity in Diversity. “The theme for the year is ‘Stand up, Come out, Join in,’ and we think it would be a great benefit for students to do so.”

There will be 18 events planned for the week, presented by members of many cultures and religions. These events will unite people of all heritages, like the poster contest celebrating the year of diversity, and the mammoth Twister game at the Liberty Bell planned for Tuesday featuring the school mascot, Victor E. Huskie.

The week kicks off Monday with the Multicultural Fashion Show which features models wearing traditional costumes from various countries. Also included in the day’s events are an exhibition of poster art from the Soviet Union.

Tuesday’s festivities start with a pinata party, followed by storytelling, a tap dance review, a workshop for effective communication with international students, and stories from African cultures.

A video workshop on sexual harrassment starts Wednesday, which also includes American Indian day and a poetry reading featuring the works of students.

Friday and Saturday have a decidedly religious bent, with Islamic prayer, and Jewish Kol Nidre services on Friday, and Yom Kippur services on Saturday. The week concludes with a unity mass at the Newman Catholic Center, a nighttime celebration focusing on the Unity in Diversity in our everyday lives.

“The reason we have the week is that diversity is all around us, but sometimes people aren’t aware of it,” said Ahmad. “The purpose is so that people can realize and appreciate their cultures, and the unique qualities of their heritage. It is also through people experiencing cultures and ways other than their own that greater understanding can be reached between all people.” Ahmad also addressed the problem of radical ethnocentrism by saying, “People should be proud of their culture, but not get so hung up on it that they build walls between themselves and others. It is one thing to be proud of one’s ethnic background, but we should all be proud to be Americans, because that is what unites us all.”

Ahmad added, “Feel comfortable in the differences we have, and do not be threatened, instead see them as things which make us unique and exciting in our seperate ways.”