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Unity Week Celebration begins April 12 at Penn State York

Unity Week T-shirt
Kyla Kirby's design was selected to appear on the Unity Week T-shirt.
4/8/2010 —

Penn State York's weeklong celebration of diversity, Unity Week, will begin on Monday, April 12 and end on Friday, April 16, with Unity Day -- the grand finale. This event is now in its 12th year and activities will take place in and around the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center from noon to 1 p.m. each day unless otherwise noted. All events are free and open to the public. This is the second year that Penn State York has celebrated Unity Day over the course of a week -- Unity Week. Before 2009, this was a one-day event.

Monday through Thursday, a variety of displays and events are scheduled to take place with a theme each day: Monday - Europe, Tuesday - Asia, Wednesday – the Americas, and Thursday – Africa. Displays, food, dancing, and other events will highlight the theme of each day.

The events of the week all lead up to the grand finale on Friday when everyone will come together to share food items that represent their heritage. Those who attend can participate in an international food sampling from a number of countries. Displays that reflect the origin or ancestry of faculty, staff, and students will also be set-up in and around the student center. A variety of performances are scheduled and food representing the ethnicity of the campus community will be available beginning at 11:30 a.m. and continue until 1:30 p.m.

Third grade students from Jackson Elementary School in York will also participate in the day with their live wax museum of famous Latinos. Under the direction of their teacher, Janet Delgado, students will portray a variety of famous people beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Those participating in Unity Day will wear the specially designed T-shirts. Students in Fred Haag’s introduction to visual studies class created designs for Unity Week and the campus community selected a T-shirt design from among them. Haag, an associate professor of visual arts at Penn State York, has involved his class in creating designs for a number of years. A design by Kyla D. Kirby, a Penn State York freshman from Lititz, Pa., was selected for the shirts. Visitors to the event can also receive a shirt, while supplies last, if they visit a number of displays. Eighteen other students submitted designs for the contest and they are Cara B. Bishoff ,Glen Rock, Pa.; Laurel M. Crone, Dover, Pa.; Ryan C. Dahl, Manchester, Md.; Laura B. Davila Reyes, East Berlin, Pa.; Erin N. Day, York, Pa.; Lucas M. Gemmill, Stewartstown, Pa.; Timothy A. Glatfelter, Spring Grove, Pa.; Matthew J. Haldeman, York, Pa.; Rebecca C. Hollinger, York, Pa.; Natia L. Jones, York, Pa.; Zach A. Kauffman, Dallastown, Pa.; Jason M. Seitz, Felton, Pa.; Mitchell W. Smith, York, Pa.; Lynn E. Stone, Red Lion, Pa.; Matthew K. Wagner, Camp Hill, Pa.; Justin T. Webb, New Freedom, Pa.; Tanner D. Widdowson, Hanover, Pa.; and Justin A. Wolford, Red Lion, Pa.

Goals for Unity Week include creating teachable moments to learn about diversity and to provide an opportunity for the campus and community to suggest ways Penn State can create a multicultural environment.

Additional events being planned include soccer games on April 15 and 16 and movies related to the theme of the day in the evening. Ten Thousand Villages, a shop selling internationally handmade items, will also be on campus on April 15 and 16 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Community Room of the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center. A variety of items will be available for sale from around the world.

Unity Week is the culmination of the work of Penn State York’s Diversity Committee which includes students, faculty, and staff and is sponsored by the group. A variety of multicultural events are planned throughout the year to provide a forum for the campus and community to learn about diversity.

Flags fly at Penn State York representing the homelands of students, faculty, and staff year-round, and symbolize campus pride in the ethnic heritage of campus members and their commitment to providing an environment where all opinions are valued and respected. Unity Week is an opportunity to educate, understand, and appreciate the differences among us and discover the many similarities.

Those attending Unity Week may also wish to visit the display of 30 ceremonial dance masks from Latin American nations, primarily Mexico and Guatemala, which are on permanent display in the Lee R. Glatfelter Library. The masks were donated by the family of the late Gary Collison, Ph.D., Penn State York professor of English/American studies, who died almost three years ago. These masks were part of a much larger collection gathered by Collison, many of which were purchased in his travels to other countries.

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