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From Vietnamese hoagies - "the new Philly cheesesteak," as one student called them - to buckets of hummus and Chinese egg tarts, tables of food reflected the diversity of Penn's campus.

Eighteen minority student groups gathered yesterday afternoon in Bodek Lounge, where the Houston Hall room was abuzz with music and conversation.

Hosted by the United Minorities Council, the gathering marked the 19th annual Celebration of Cultures, which highlights the variety of ethnicities on campus.

"It is definitely rare to get all of these cultural clubs together in one place," College freshman Michelle Nguyen said as she chatted with friends and lured taste testers to the Vietnamese Student Association's table.

"Each year, it gets a little bigger and a little better," said Wharton junior Tiffany Yeh, co-president of the Penn Taiwanese Society.

And this year the event was indeed bigger, featuring a new organization, Queer People of Color. The group joined the UMC's event for the first time in five years.

"We are very excited to be involved because we will be able to incorporate the LGBT identity into the UMC and educate the other minorities about queer people of color," QPOC chairman College junior Malek Lewis said.

QPOC opted for a somewhat serious approach to the event and posted the names of homosexuals who had been executed in foreign countries on the walls of the room.

Most organizations, however, represented themselves in a more lighthearted fashion, with mountains of ethnic food.

"This is a celebration of culture," said College sophomore Ameya Ananth, the communications chairwomen for the UMC.

"Food is a great way for groups to display the essence of their culture."

As a prelude to the celebration, the biracial, Jewish and bisexual author Rebecca Walker gave a speech last Tuesday night to about 200 people in the ARCH auditorium.

"She talked about the importance of openness and how academia and society today create this attitude that is divisive," Ananth said. "Her speech related to today, to the importance of being open to each other's cultures."

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