Unity Fest 2017 brings all cultures together

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By Sebastian Moronta Blanco, Staff Writer

On Thursday, April 13, hundreds of students and dozens of groups and organizations gathered in Campus Center for the 3rd annual Unity Fest.

“Tongyi” aimed to promote diversity, intercultural awareness, and community building on campus.

  Presented by the Frederick Douglass Unity House, the event was a celebration of different cultures and an opportunity for those cultures to mingle.

The event began with an introduction from Ann-Melissa Pognon and Carlos Aquino, student committee co-chairs, while students were invited to sign a banner with a short comment on what unity means to them. The banner had a quote from Aquino, which read:

“The reason why the world lacks unity and lies broken in pieces is, because we, as people, are disunited with ourselves. Until we move towards unity and widely shared prosperity, we will always move apart not only from ourselves, but from each other. This is why understanding ourselves and understanding each other as people is of the highest importance.”

A video shown at the event collected the responses of several students describing what unity meant to them, citing tolerance, acceptance, and working together as popular themes.

The event had lots of activities and games, including basketball and cornhole outside the campus center, as well as a station for making zen gardens, and a table giving out t-shirts.

Mental Note, an acapella group on campus, performed a few songs, followed by a presentation of Krav Maga by Krav Maga Boston South Coast.

All sorts of different groups set up tables at the event, from racial collectives such as the United Latino Society and the Black Student Union, as well as new groups, like Better Together, for example.

Better Together is a new group on campus born out of the multi-faith dinners that brought members of different religious faiths to dine as one.

Lane Renovato, senior sociology major and Better Together member, says the group thought, “Why not make a club for that, to make a special place where people of all different religions can engage with each other and learn more.”

Marius Johnson, a senior business management major, has recently started a new group of his own, Eovove.

This new group, in Johnson’s words, “Aims to connect people in meaningful ways, giving students on campus a new opportunity to network, and get things done. We want to put people together, like introducing a new photographer to a model looking for work, for example.”

Not all tables were student groups, however. One, for example, showcased the styles of Trevor Williams, 5th year digital media major and founder of Toon In Apparel, a service where Williams designs custom cartoon logos for t-shirts.

He runs the business all by himself, including designing the shirts, which he can do of friends, family, loved ones, celebrities, and more.

Unity Fest collected the extremely diverse community of students at UMass Dartmouth and gave them the stage to interact as one.

With the smell of togetherness in the air, UMass continues to be a welcoming cultural hub for people of all walks of life to learn and grow.

Photo Courtesy: Sebastian Moronta Blanco

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