Last week was International Education Awareness Week, and to celebrate, the Student Arts and Events Council (SAEC) hosted the 4th annual Diversity Slam at University of Massachusetts Boston. 

This week was meant to celebrate the cultural diversity we encounter on a daily basis at UMass Boston, and also to educate students about cultures they may not encounter on a daily basis.

The Diversity Slam was open to any and all students who wished to participate and showcase their talent and culture, and it was planned by student coordinators, Bobby Croke, Patricia Heng, and Katie Kaiser.

The three started planning this event during the summer and were able to spread the word through Facebook and word of mouth. This initiative was met with positive reception and with lots of students eager to get on stage and showcase their talents.

This event is part of a week long initiative sponsored by the Office of International and Transnational Affairs partnered with the SAEC to educate and immerse students in different cultures. Events included international coffee tastings, DDR in the campus center terrace, and a “guess the international soda” contest.

On Thursday, the atmosphere of the event was very open and relaxed — while the lineup was already set up, the coordinators opened the stage to any last minute performers eager to get on stage.

“[The Diversity Slam] is an open event that really represents the cultural diversity UMass has to offer,” Kaiser explains. “And it’s a great way for the student body to get involved talent wise, and stand up in front of their peers to show what they’re really proud of.”

The lineup of the event itself reflected the theme of the night. Performances were very diverse. They ranged from cultural dances to spoken word pieces and from stand up comedy to vocal performances.

One of performances that encapsulated the cultural aspect of the night was the Martial Arts and Lion Dance Club. The club brought traditional Asian instruments and put on a traditional lion dance for the captivated audience.

The Martial Arts and Lion Dance Club choreographed this routine especially for the night, however, they are no stranger to performing on campus. According to President Alex Woo, the club has performed for Welcome Week since the foundation of the club about two years ago. Not only that, the club also plans to partner with the Vietnamese student union for their New Years celebration.

The night continued on with various singing performances and dramatic readings, including a poem written by Hallima Ibrahim about the various struggles that can come along with being immersed in a culture that isn’t your own. She wrote it in such a way that people from all cultures are able to relate to it.

“I believe struggle doesn’t discriminate, whatever color you are. However, we all have the power to overcome that,” Ibrahim elaborates after reading her poem out loud.

Throughout the entire event, the audience remained respectful and supportive of everyone who performed and often encouraged fellow audience members to get on the stage.

“The night went really well, and I hope this tradition continues next year as well,” Kaiser says as the event comes to a close.

Missed this event but want to go to something similar? Just wait until spring, when SAEC hosts their annual spring showcase, “UMB’s Got Talent,” which gives students yet another chance of showcasing their talents.

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