Welcome Week is almost over (ending on Aug. 29) and with it concludes a host of activities for incoming students — first-years, transfer students, and exchange students alike. However, there is one activity that all in attendance look forward to (even if, like me, you’ve seen it three times): Celebrate Diversity.
On the student-facing side, what happens at a program like this is not so different from what one might experience at something like Convocation or One Community — you get shuttled (literally, for this event) over to a location where people talk at you and then you enjoy sitting through something that happens at you. Audience participation isn’t built in, and you’re meant to take it all in. However, unlike the rest of the events, Celebrate Diversity benefits from the variety in their acts, leading to more crowd investment in the performances.
On the reverse side, as someone who’s worked for the Orientation department for multiple years, Celebrate Diversity is a labor of love for all of the student and staff organizations who are involved — and that’s what makes it so good. You can tell the heart that people put into their first performances in front of the new additions to the student body, and in a year like this, the A-game that everyone brings is infectious.
To open the event, Xclusive Step Team did a choreographed number that immediately caught the crowd’s attention, complete with off-mic shouting that filled Kodak Hall, and that energy propelled itself through every group that followed.
This year, there were some groups who performed at Celebrate Diversity that hadn’t been around in past years — one of which was Bangla Basha, a Bangla dance team that set itself apart from its similar counterparts, at least to my semi-uncultured eye (Rangoli and Bhangra, of which do Bollywood and Punjabi folk dance respectively) with their nearly theatre-esque choreography.
In particular, a highlight of this year’s Celebrate Diversity was actually the costuming. Normally, I don’t find myself paying attention to performers’ outfits, but I was particularly taken this year with the visuals of the event. From UR Celtic’s shimmery skirts and dresses that perfectly complemented their tight footwork to the rainbow-order bow ties and suspenders of the ASL Club’s high-energy rendition of “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from Hairspray, I was on just the right amount of sensory overload.
Celebrate Diversity, in essence, is the best mutually-beneficial marketing strategy that the University has to offer. The promotion of student diversity is twofold: it serves as fuel for budding student organizations to thrive off of after their performances put them on full display for students who may have never rolled up to their Activities Fair table or attended their GIM otherwise, and it serves as a confirmation for incoming students that what they saw in the emails and on the website and on the tour isn’t just for show. We’re lucky to have a lot of incredibly diverse students with diverse interests and backgrounds at our institution, and Celebrate Diversity exploits that fact to everyone’s advantage.