The exotic scent of koshari and potato pancakes drifted under multicolored threads hanging from the ceiling.
It was that time of year again. The time when Keene State College (KSC) celebrates diversity by acknowledging students either from countries outside the U.S. or with family connections to one. This was on Tuesday, April 11.
This year, six flags were raised to honor Albania, Belarus, Cape Verde, Egypt, Laos and the Philippines. Some students spoke about what they recognized from their culture, such as KSC sophomore Madolyn Chavez.
Chavez has family from the Philippines. “My grandfather is from there,” she said during her presentation. Chavez spoke on the traditions she’s noticed within her family. “We really value close family ties and on Sunday nights we all get together,” she said.
“I’m really lucky because my family all lives near each other. My grandparents, aunt and my family all live on the same street.”
Other students, such as KSC student Iryna Zavadskaya, spoke on what their flags symbolized. Zavadskaya’s home is in Minsk, Belarus. The country’s flag is red and green with a side design detailed in white and red.
“Red symbolizes war,” Zavadskaya said. “The green represents hope and the ornament on the side is a traditional Slavic pattern.”
For KSC junior Omar Awwad, he went with humor to appeal to the audience. “I just want to clear a few things up,” he said. “We don’t live in the desert and we don’t ride camels.”
Awwad spoke after the meeting with The Equinox. He said he was sad to leave KSC. “I wish I could finish my education here,” he said. He said if he had to say one thing about America, it would be that it represented freedom to him. “There’s so much freedom here,” he said.
Other speakers who spoke freely at the event included Coordinator of Multicultural Student Support and Success Rocio Mora.
This was Mora’s first year helping with the event. “I think it went really well,” she said. “It was well-anticipated and well-attended.”
Mora said she’s grateful to be part of KSC’s welcoming community.
“I love connecting with people and learning about others. I’ve only been here a few months, but it feels a lot longer,” she said. Mora said these kinds- of diverse celebrations are necessary. “It’s important because we’re all in this world together,” she said.
Chief Officer of Diversity and Multiculturalism Dottie Morris touched on this topic as well.
Morris closed the formal portion of the event. She encouraged folks to visit the flag room at night. “The way this place lights up a night, that’s why they call it the lantern room,” she said. “
This is the perfect place to see all of these flags illuminated in the night.”
Morris said this event was a critical one for recognizing our similarities across nations. “I ask all of us to please come into this room to connect with what is in this room and all the beautiful colors presented,” she said.
One audience member who said she felt a connection was KSC sophomore Kate Chestna said she enjoyed the event. “It was really interesting to hear people presenting on their countries and personal lives,” she said.
Chestna said she loves diversity. “I want to travel anywhere or everywhere,” she said. Chestna who is part of the KSC’s club Common Ground said if anyone’s interested in learning about others’ ethnicity or culture, they should come to the meetings.
They meet Mondays at 8:30 p.m. in the Mountain View Room.
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org