On a cold evening in February, students gathered to celebrate the multiculturalism at Kenyon in an event organized by Ubongabasi Asuquo '23 and Somphors Tann '23. Student photographer Ayman Wadud '25 captured snapshots of the event, seen below.
Here, Ubongabasi, a biology major from Akwa-Ibom, Nigeria, explains the inspiration behind the night's festivities.
Here at Kenyon, we are challenged to be global citizens. To be a global citizen involves developing an appreciation and respect for cultures different from our own and making an effort to come alongside these cultures when they celebrate or mourn. Over the past two years of a global pandemic, it has been difficult to come together for any festivities, especially cultural ones. As an international student, across the Atlantic Ocean from my loved ones, I have found it reaffirming to seek out or create avenues of cultural reinforcement. It was in those moments of feeling homesick that the idea to organize a multicultural event came to me.
As soon as it became safer to host larger gatherings, as the President of the African Students Association, I reached out to my executive officers and to the executive officers of the International Society at Kenyon to come together to plan an event. I also reached out to some of the staff of the Office of Student Engagement, the Center of Global Engagement and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for support with other logistical concerns and equipment. Our goal for the event was to celebrate the diversity of cultures and ethnicities that Kenyon students embody and to invite other students to thoughtful engage with this diversity as well.
On a Saturday night in February, over 200 students gathered in the Gund Commons ballroom for the event! It was a night of shared laughter, beautiful fabric, and delicious meals.
The first half of the night was a fashion show where participating students representing different countries were clad in traditional attire and strutted on the makeshift walkway. For the show, over 20 countries, including Egypt, Somalia, Vietnam, and Nepal, were represented by multiple students walking. It was particularly enlightening to share in the breadth of culture that exists even within one country. As the students walked, a song of their choice accompanied them, making the atmosphere even more electric. The second half of the event was a tasting of delicacies from South-East Asia, West Africa, North Africa, Latin America, and East Africa. Through financial support from the Business and Finance committee on the Student Council, the dishes were catered from local ethnic restaurants in Columbus. Some of the meals served included Empanadas (baked or fried pastry stuffed with a variety of fillings), Waakye (white rice and black eyed peas cooked in red sorghum leaf broth), Kunafa, and more.
Many students expressed how much they enjoyed this event and that they looked forward to a similar gathering in the future. It is my hope that through this event and other cultural endeavors, students at Kenyon can come together to celebrate and learn from the richness of the diversity here.
- Ubongabasi Asuquo '23, one of the event's organizers