Students Celebrate Campus Diversity with Cultural Identity and Appreciation Week

For the past week, Swarthmore students have had the opportunity to participate in a number of activities celebrating the culture and diversity found among the vibrant campus community.

More than 20 cultural groups hosted events and exhibitions for the inaugural Cultural and Identity Appreciation (CIA) Week. The week of programming was sponsored by the Student Government Organization, the Office of Student Engagement, Multi, Asian Studies, the President’s and Dean’s Offices, the Black Cultural Center, the Intercultural Center, and the Forum for Free Speech, among others.

According to the Daily Gazette, the idea for CIA Week was sparked during a conversation between Josephine Hung ’19, a major from Rowland Heights, Calif., and Shivani Gupta ’19, an economics major from Princeton Junction, N.J.

Hung ’19 says she really wanted to do this series because she “realized that oftentimes affinity groups don’t often talk to each other. We have really relevant issues that can often intersect but we don’t really bring this conversation together.” 

After months of planning, CIA Week kicked off on Fri., March 17, with Kohlchella, an event in which student cultural groups each took over a room in Kohlberg Hall and transformed it into an experience of the cultures and traditions represented by their group. Kohlchella was inspired by Bunkasai, a type of cultural festival held at Japanese schools.

Maya Henry ’20 of Dayton, N.J., was involved in both organizing Kohlchella and hosting the Swarthmore Queer Union’s [SQU] room.

“One [SQU] member added a lot of great music, and others helped the day of to make our room look really welcoming, with queer literature and a short slide show with some queer history and a breakdown of pronouns,” Henry says. “We really just created a welcoming and inviting space for people to ask about queer things and what we've been up to as far as organizing at Swarthmore, while listening to some good music and eating snacks.”

Henry also notes that Kohlchella helped generate interest for other events held by student groups. “A lot of people came through and asked about pride month, the party we were throwing the next day, and our other CIA event,” she says.

Other CIA activities included a cook-along with Margaret Kuo, famous for supplying the Science Center Coffee Bar with Chinese and Japanese food, a study break held by Deshi, a South Asian student group, and an origami and calligraphy workshop sponsored by Kizuna and the Swarthmore Chinese Society​.

CIA Week continues this weekend with several events, including:

  • Ask me Anything Panel | Fri., March 24th | 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. | Sci 101
  • Viewing of Pariah | Intercultural Center | Fri., March 24 | 8 p.m.
  • Exploring the Empathic Imagination: Collective Strategies for Empowerment and Action | Friends Meeting House | Sat., March 25 | 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
  • Parrishpalooza | Parrish Beach | Sat., March 25th |1 p.m. - 7 p.m.
  • South Asian A Cappella | Sci 101 | Sun., March 26 | 5:30 p.m.