The United Minorities Council is bringing back Unity Week to celebrate art and culture from minority communities on Penn’s campus.
From Nov. 13 to 17, the UMC will be hosting a revival of Unity Week in honor of the group's 45th anniversary. The week is meant to bring together Penn’s various minority groups as well as encourage individuals of different cultural backgrounds and identities to interact with each other.
“We really just want for people to see how strong we can be whenever we come together," Engineering junior and UMC Vice Chair Fiona Wu said. "We really want to be able to just celebrate arts and culture and create discussion spaces on campus."
According to their website, UMC was established in 1978 as a coalition of minority student organizations on Penn’s campus. Their goal is to give voice to underrepresented communities, encourage intercultural dialogue, and find the best ways for Penn to serve its minority students. Unity Week was held on campus in previous years, but suffered during COVID-19, accordint to Wu.
“Last semester, we had a bigger scale event, and although that was great, we also wanted to highlight different aspects of the community at Penn,” College senior and UMC Chair Oumy Diasse said, referring to a "Celebration of Cultures" co-hosted with the 2024 Class Board.
On Nov. 13, the group will be hosting an event called “Taste of Unity: Rice!” from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Arts, Research and Culture House room 108. The event's purpose is for students to learn about rice’s history while tasting rice dishes from around the world, including Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa. Student groups such as the Penn African Student Association, the Bangla Society, the Caribbean American Student Association, Mex@Penn, and the Penn Taiwanese Society will contribute the dishes.
“We're not only allowing people to taste these different foods, but we're also collaborating with groups within these different regions so they can also present what the food means to each of their respective cultures,” Diasse said.
On Nov. 14, UMC will be hosting “Performance Around the World” from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. in the Gutmann College House multipurpose room. Student art groups such as The Inspiration A Cappella, Penn k-Beats, Fuerza, Penn Lions, Strictly Funk, and the Menagerie Band are putting together a showcase of singing and dancing that represent their cultures.
As part of Unity Week, Director of the Greenfield Intercultural Center Valerie De Cruz will lead a discussion on Nov. 15 in GIC called “Creating Space." The conversation will focus on the historical development of spaces for minority groups. It will also explore how individuals, communities, and student organizations can currently secure meeting spaces on Penn's campus.
According to Wu, some of Penn’s student organizations have recently had a more difficult time finding spaces to hold their events.
“I'm a junior, so I remember from my freshman and sophomore year the space discussion at Penn being very real about trying to get the cultural centers out of the basement and to expand,” Wu said. “There's been a lot of promises made and a history of space at Penn, and getting to the space that we have now has been a really long task and there's actually so many students and students' works that have contributed to where we are now.”
Last fall, Penn dedicated the ARCH building as a home to the University’s main minority coalition groups and cultural resource centers, and the building is continuing to undergo renovations.
To finish the week, UMC is hosting an event called “Shared Places & Shared Stories” on Nov. 16 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the Radian College House lounge. Students are encouraged to come together for a final Thanksgiving feast, where each food station will encourage attendees to discuss a different topic with someone they have not met before.
“There's so many people at Penn, and during your time here, you won't really get to meet everyone, but they all have such unique stories," Wu said. I hope that people can come out and have fun experiencing other cultures that they might not have had the chance to be exposed to before and then find their space."