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November 4, 2002

Unity Week expands to entire month

By Eric Rangus

For 18 years Unity Week has been a staple of Emory’s fall programming. Sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services, Unity Week has served as a time when the Emory community could celebrate its diversity through a variety of artistic, cultural and educational events.

Not anymore.

Where Unity was previously honored for just a week, now it spans the entire month of November. “Unity at Emory: More Than a Month, Unity is a State of Mind” is the theme of 2002’s newly christened Unity Month.

The plan to expand Unity Week was hatched last spring. The event’s planning committee (which numbers 35 students and staff members, primarily from Campus Life) felt that one week was too limiting and that it didn’t allow enough opportunity for groups to work together.

“The whole point of the event is to give people the chance to collaborate and put on events to share cultures,” said Donna Wong, associate director of multicultural programs.
If that wasn’t happening, a change needed to be made. And that change was to significantly expand Unity Week. There was no lack of ideas or programming.

More than 30 organizations across campus, including some academic departments, had a hand in cosponsoring at least one event. Beginning with a fashion and talent show on Nov. 1, practically every day of November through Thanksgiving is filled with programming.

Many standbys from previous years have returned: the faculty/staff vs. student basketball game (Oct. 14), Café Unity (Oct. 16), the turkey trot at Lullwater (Oct. 21) and the Unity Ball (Oct. 22) are all back on the calendar this year. Once again, there is an emphasis on the arts, as a variety of musical and dance performances are sprinkled throughout the month. However, it is some of the new events that rank among the most laudable.

One of the most interesting will be tonight’s feast of Middle Eastern food and games at
7 p.m. in Harris Parlor. It is cosponsored by the Arab Cultural Association and Hillel, which serves the needs of Emory’s Jewish community. “That event is a perfect example of cross-cultural unity,” Wong said.

Six groups led by Volunteer Emory are cosponsoring “Eat as a Global Citizen,” Nov. 13, a role-playing banquet. Attendees will take on the roles of citizens of certain nations; not only will they eat food from their country, but they also must deal with food shortages. If they are from a part of the world where famine is widespread, their dinner may consist of only a couple spoonfuls of rice, for example.

While fun and social (and food-oriented) activities make up a significant part of the Unity Month calendar, there are some serious events as well. A panel on homophobia in the African American community is scheduled Nov. 20. The RACES dialogue, “Cultural Separatism at Emory,” will be Nov. 12, and the Lost Boys of Sudan (an organization that assists Sudanese refugees) will speak on slavery in their home country, Nov. 5.

Wong said the issue of cultural separatism on campus is of concern to students. “They notice it,” she said. “They walk through the DUC and see all the African American students sitting together and all the Korean students sitting together, and they wonder about it.”

For a full list of activities, refer to the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services’ website at