Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Diversity Celebration

Why Celebrate Diversity?

The Diversity Celebration supports and enhances Appalachian State University's mission of "accepting the responsibility to be actively involved in addressing the educational, economic, cultural, and societal needs of the changing region, state, nation, and world," by providing a venue where diverse perspectives, cultures and values are accepted, appreciated and celebrated.

Diversity is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, which include race, ethnic origin and color, religion and creed, sexual orientation, age and ability, to name but a few. As ever evolving creatures in an ever changing world, the innumerable aspects of our humanity - all our ways of being, knowing and moving through the world - are contained in this one concept.

As human beings, we are revealed and make ourselves known to one another by infinite varieties of intelligence, language, race, values, politics, religion, national service, gender presentation, philosophy and a host of other elements common to humankind. The recognition of a common humanity is the first step in the celebration of our differences - differences that inform our cultures, our values, our minds, and all our ways of being in the world. Diversity is the chief informant of the creative life force and the central reality in our understanding and stewardship of it.

At Appalachian, diversity is recognized as essential binding agent of the interdisciplinary approach to education, as well as to the greater life experience. In an institutional culture where the full circle of human qualities is regarded with respect and where the particular gifts of every university community member are dignified by conscious recognition, human beings can thrive. The phrase, "Think globally; act locally," has inspired our national culture to better understand that the world is a multicultural society of which we are a part. The systems of the world - its governments, economies, religions and cultures - are increasingly dependent on interdependence. Differences become strengths in a collaborative effort. Collaboration is a path to peace.

All of this - and more - makes diversity something to celebrate more than once a year.

Over the years, Celebration participants have shared their thoughts about the celebration and diversity in a number of ways. Here are some of them:

  • Knowledge is the key to tolerance.
  • To gain a new perspective on the lives of others around you as well as around the world.
  • While 15 percent of 2015’s first-year class were students from traditionally under represented groups, many of our student populations have limited experience with different cultures. Cultural celebrations foster respect and open-mindedness for other cultures.
  • Celebrating our differences, as well as our common interests, helps unite and educate us.
  • To understand other’s perspectives, to broaden our own, and to fully experience and educate ourselves.
  • In a word, heritage.
  • People all around need to understand and learn to appreciate other cultures, and this is one way to accomplish that.
  • Through each other's diversity, we become more aware of our own. Not only do we become more aware, we gain a sense of pride for the diversity of our own culture.
  • Understanding people and their backgrounds is crucial to personal and community growth.
  • Because diversity makes the world go round!
  • It's energizing and thought provoking. We live in such an isolated area that we don't often reflect on the diverse people we have all around us.
  • To see how many different forms of music can bring happiness to groups outside of their own traditional roots.
  • In order to realize what varied cultures, beliefs, and lifestyles people lead outside the somewhat heterogeneous bubble of Boone. In order to relate and understand those with different social, economic, and educational backgrounds.
  • To help us all spend some time together--we understand and appreciate each other's cultures so much more!
Diversity Celebration 2002-2011: A Retrospective

This video was produced to promote the 2011 Diversity Celebration, but provides a great retrospective of the Festival up to that time. Many of the faces have changed, but the spirit of the Festival remains the same.

Diversity and Sustainability

Diversity, when applied in a human context, comprises the inclusion of a wide variety of cultures, ethnicities and groups, races, religious beliefs, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientation and gender identity. The diversity of life is made up not only of the wide realm of human cultures and languages, but also of the diverse world of plants and animal species, habitats and ecosystems. Therefore, a more sustainable world is one in which biological, cultural and linguistic diversity thrive through the strength of the system. It is upon the foundation of this diverse array of ecological and human cultures that a sustaining, resilient world is built.

While the Diversity Celebration conveys a message of sustainability through diversity, on-going greening initiatives of the celebration include:

  • Bring your own bottle initiative
  • Recycling and composting food waste
  • Product packaging minimization effort (bulk vs. individual)
  • Support local businesses
  • Reuse of event material, decorations, etc from year to year
  • Procurement of local food
  • Shuttle transportation to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions
  • Paper minimization effort through electronic distribution in advertising
  • Student, faculty and staff volunteers help sustain the efforts of this event
  • Vegetarian/food allergy sensitive food menu