Photo provided by Sandra Nguyen
Students sat listening to the performances of their musically-inclined peers, stood around the Coates Esplanade chatting, and even tried foods which may have been foreign to them such as Vietnamese egg rolls or snacks from an Ethiopian food truck.
The Trinity community had many opportunities to explore a taste of diverse cultures at TDC’s annual event, Taste of Diversity. The Taste of Diversity event was held last Friday, April 5, from 2 to 5 p.m., on the Coates Esplanade. Students and other community members could enjoy a variety of culturally diverse foods, live music, a photo booth and other free items such as mugs to decorate and tie-dye shirts advertising the event.
“It’s about showing off one’s culture through food, and I wanted to extend it to include music and art,” Kezia Nyarko, junior and president of TDC, said.
TDC reached out to six student artists to perform at the event. Junior Leah Woehr was one of the performers. She sang original songs including “June” and “All That and More” as well as a few others from singer-songwriter artists like Sara Bareilles.
“I think diversity can represent diversity of experiences, which can come from food but also from people, how they want to express themselves and the experiences that they’ve had. So there’s diversity in that,” Woehr said. “Ultimately the goal of this event is to bring people together so that they can learn from other cultures. Food and music do that well, so them being together makes a super fun event.”
A few rows of chairs were set up in front of the stage where the artists performed, while the tables offering a variety of culturally and ethnically diverse foods were set up along the back of the Esplanade.
Alex Motter, junior and president of the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA), expressed his excitement in participating in the event. VSA and TDC often work closely together and were happy to do so again as they’ve done many years past in light of Taste of Diversity.
“We helped serve food and decided to showcase Vietnamese egg rolls as our dish because they’re really tasty and you can combine them with all kinds of sauces,” Motter said.
Likely over 200 students attended the event as well as many parents and prospective students from Tiger Friday, as event shirts ran out within the first hour — not to mention the food, which they had doubled since last year.
Nyarko even recalls one prospective student telling her that she definitely wanted to come to Trinity based on seeing this event. Nyarko added that TDC is considering working with Admissions to build up this event.
“We’ve been trying to [create] more interactive ways of learning about diversity. I think Trinity lacks in having naturally diverse spaces,” Nyarko said, “Almost everyone was around each other and interacted, but it’s still very natural and you aren’t thinking about the diversity within it. It feels comfortable enough to see different cultures.”
TDC, being a University Sponsored Organization (USO), pulled from their funding to put up this event. This year, they used the whole of their budget, focusing on making their signature events and programs bigger and better than ever.
“I’m pretty happy with the outcome, making these types of events have more outreach.” Nyarko said.
“This event was part of the original structure of TDC, based on international diversity and where people would bring food from their culture specifically to share with other people. Two years ago, we started doing Diversity Week — with Taste of Diversity being the highlight event,” Nyarko said.
Some of these events during this year’s Diversity Week included more educational aspects such as the learning simulation, in which students without learning disabilities got to experience a simulation of how these affect learning, and a diversity in business programming event, which discussed approaches to diversity in the business world.
On the day of the Taste of Diversity event, TDC also released the result of their project for this semester, known as the TDC Journal. The idea started as a way to develop TDC’s purpose, which has changed with the creation of the Diversity and Inclusion Office.
The main goals of the journal were to serve as creative platform of expression and as a way for TDC and the Diversity and Inclusion Office to have a tangible expression of the needs and concerns of the Trinity community in terms of diversity.
The journal, compiled by sophomore and print director Gabriella Garriga, unites written entries from a number of students with diverse creative interests, backgrounds, sexual orientations and more. (Garriga is the special sections editor for the Trinitonian.) Some students provided short blurbs about themselves and their creative talents, while others wrote articles addressing issues of identity, religion, sexual justice and even allyship.
Motter was one of the students to write a piece for the journal, entitling his article “Why I like white guys, analyzing white standards of beauty and its effects.” In it, he discusses the effects of racism and discrimination toward Asian men, including within the gay community.
“I wanted to use the journal and its platform to be able to talk about intersectionality and some things that people may not particularly think about. My piece centers on the intersection between my experiences being Asian and my experiences being queer, and how racism has played into my life as a queer person,” Motter said.
Not only is the journal a forum and opportunity for students to share their experiences, it also showcases some of Trinity’s artistic projects.
“It’s a way for TDC and students to talk about diversity on campus and be very real about it. But it also kind of serves to highlight certain groups and certain people who are doing things but aren’t being really recognized. These are some really cool things people are doing on campus, look at them,” Nyarko said.
Copies of the journal are available to students and can be found and read in the Diversity and Inclusion Office in Coates Student Center.