November 13 , 2006
Month-long celebration fosters campus unity
BY benjamin van der horst
For junior Maria Ladega, Unity Month is a time for many things — reflection, education, great events — but she never forgets the goals of the celebration. “No matter how many different labels divide us as a society, be it race, religion, gender, or ethnicity,” she said, “hopefully, at the end of the day, we can all join together in a celebration of our differences and similarities.”
For the Emory Community, Unity Month is an opportunity to celebrate diversity and unity through an array of multicultural and educational activities.
This year’s theme is “iRock Unity, iRep Emory,” inspired by the popular Apple iPod campaign. Donna Wong, director of the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services which sponsors Unity Month, explained that “iRock Unity means that each person believes in a united Emory campus; and iRep means each person represents a united Emory campus.”
“Like the iPod, we encourage people to ‘add to their playlist’ and experience new and different cultural perspectives,” she said. “Through our calendar of activities in November, staff and students can ‘shuffle’ and pick and participate in cross-cultural programs.”
The events kicked off with a special “Wonderful Wednesday” celebration on Nov. 1, and featured various multicultural groups hosting food and information booths in Asbury Circle. That evening, Provost Earl Lewis led a dialogue on race at Emory. About 60 members of the Emory community attended this session in the Cox Hall Ballroom.
The discussion centered on the need to develop a more diverse community. Race should be viewed in the context of community, Lewis said.
At Emory, where students of color make up more than 30 percent of the student body and international students come from more than 100 countries, Lewis said “the numbers only tell part of the story.” He spoke of the need for students and faculty to feel comfortable talking about race in a safe setting.
Highlights of upcoming Unity events include award-winning author Alice Walker’s book signing and reading on Nov. 14, held in the Winship Ballroom from noon until 1:30 p.m. Also, staff members are invited to a Lunch & Learn program on Nov. 16 that will include the film, “Race: the power of illusion,” followed by a discussion.
Also on Nov. 16, the annual Unity Turkey Trot will be held in Lullwater Preserve at 4:15 p.m. Bring either a canned food good or $1 for this charity event which benefits homeless shelters.
The annual Unity Ball semiformal will be held on Saturday evening, Nov. 18 from 10 p.m.– 2 a.m. at the Emory Conference Center Ballroom. The evening will feature a dance contest, door prizes, refreshments and more. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door.
Unity Month will conclude with a diversity workshop open to all members of the Emory community on Nov. 29.
For more information about Unity Month events visit www.unitymonth.com.