The College at Brockport presented its 13th annual Diversity Conference Sept. 13. This year’s theme was “Building Community through Diversity: Championing Access and Equity.”
The conference commenced with keynote speaker Muriel Howard, a national public higher education advocate, whose keynote address was entitled “Community and the 21st Century Student.” The program continued with morning and afternoon educational workshops that expanded the conference’s central theme of building community through diversity.
One of the more interactive and popular programs is the multicultural food tasting located in the college’s Seymour College Union Ballroom. The buffet-style food tasting features food from many cultures and countries.
With several catering tables set up throughout the ballroom, attendees are able to leisurely move from table to table, sampling the delicious food and drinks while mingling with fellow students, faculty and other attendees.
The food and drinks are marked clearly, allowing you to decide what diverse food you want to dive into. The table offering Italian tastings proves to be popular, with the line wrapping around one side of the ballroom. The desert table is a bit predictable, with macaroons and tiramisu being some of the many familiar desert choices.
The drinks, however, are a surprising and pleasant addition with treats such as coconut soda and Jamaican Ginger Beer. The Jamaican drink really gets people talking with its bold and refreshing zing of a taste.
With dozens of cultural food to choose from, the attendees are visibly enthusiastic about sampling all that they can. Brockport student Brittany Forester, who raves about the Italian meatballs and Caribbean food, says the diversity is much appreciated, “There are so many great food choices. It’s a great way to show off the diversity of cultural food and all the food from different countries. There are some things that I might not have had the chance to try. It’s free, yummy food, so I love that. But it’s also a great addition to the Diversity Conference.”
As if the food and drinks are not entertaining enough, live performances accompany the tasting. Rochester-based saxophonist, Jimmie Highsmith Jr. and dancer Akinjiola Oluyinka are among the talented performers. The Hip Hop Dance Club holds the attention of the attendees well, causing many to dance along to the music.
The highlight of the food tasting performances is the Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble. It is such a fun and energetic performance to watch and the dancers emote such joy when performing. During the final minutes of the performance, dancers come out from behind the stage and dance around the ballroom floor, encouraging those in the audience to participate and dance along.
The dance performances are a big hit, with the audience’s cheers and clapping encouraging the dancers and drummers to really give it their all. Anthropology Department secretary, Jackie Deats, explains that the dance performances add something special to the food tasting. “In a way, it’s like a movie and dinner type deal. I have this delicious food piled on my plate, experiencing different cultures, while I can watch the dance and music of different cultures as well. It really adds a lot of fun to the food tasting experience.”
Near the end of the performances, many of the tables are cleared of food, thanks mostly to the students’ hunger and eagerness to try new foods. With the scrumptious and interesting food choices and the energetic and enjoyable performances, attendees leave the ballroom with stomachs full of cultural food and minds full of cultural diversity.