Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Night of Culture’ promotes acceptance in community among UMass students

The event was hosted by the SGA

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Andrea Hanley, Collegian Staff

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Students involved with cultural organizations at the University of Massachusetts promoted awareness of diversity on campus at the Student Government Association’s annual “Night of Culture.”

The event took place on Thursday night and included 13 different cultural groups that participated in both individualized information sessions and visual displays such as cultural-specific artwork and dance performances.

“We’re here to share the cultural aspect of Japan,” said Carmen Chen, a member of the Japanese Student Association.

Chen, a sophomore communication disorders and linguistics double major, said, “It’s really amazing to spend time with other people on campus who appreciate the culture, and it’s a great way to step away from academics.”

The most prominent motif emphasized, however, was that the group is open to all members of the UMass community.

“We only consist of about 30 members currently and meet every Saturday from 1 to 2 p.m. in Herter Hall, room 113,” said Chen. “We’re looking to expand, and would love to see anyone and everyone come learn what it means to be a part of Japanese culture.”

Similar to the Japanese Student Association, the Irish Dance Group highlighted the importance of acceptance in diversity across culture in the UMass community.

“We are always open to new members. I really believe that everyone should come give it a shot. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re Irish or you know how to dance – [ it’s about] performing, making people smile and embracing the culture all at once,” Isabelle Bongiorno, a sophomore chemistry major and member of the Irish Dance Group, said.

The Irish Dance Group meets in the lobby of Bartlett Hall at 4 p.m. every Sunday and invites “anyone who wants to have a ‘hands-on’ experience with Irish culture or, just wants to be more involved with the UMass community,” Bongiorno said.

In addition to gaining perspective on solely the cultural aspect of the organizations represented, the concept of comfortability in belonging was demonstrated unanimously among participants at the “Night of Culture.”

“Coming into college, it was a lot harder to make friends than expected,” said Doug Truong, a freshman engineering major and member of the Asian American Student Association.

“Not only do we meet for AASA twice a week, but also, separate from the club, we meet as friends, giving us both a sense of purpose and community,” Truong said.

According to Truong, the AASA is the “largest Asian cultural organization on campus” and, in accordance with every organization that evening, is “always recruiting new students of any and every cultural background.”

Andrea Hanley can be reached at [email protected]

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