BY LINDSEY MEDWIN
After a divisive fall semester that was punctuated by a contentious election cycle, the County College of Morris chapter of Phi Theta Kappa responded by hosting a celebration of culture and difference.
Unity Day, held on Dec. 1, 2016, was planned as an event to bring together all walks of life on campus in order to educate attendees not only on different cultures, but what exactly unites them. This event ran from 12:30 to 2:00 and took place in the Davidson Rooms at the Student Community Center. The idea for Unity Day stemmed from PTK’s Honors in Action project and was developed with two leading themes: beauty and vulgarity.
“We wanted to do something that highlighted how different cultures go together,” said Michael Gosden, president of Phi Theta Kappa.
Though not particularly inspired from an on campus issue, but rather a bigger unification problem in society overall recently with the uproar over the election in particular, PTK aspired to organize an event to address these concerns and allow their intentions to spread beyond the grounds of CCM.
“We can start it at county [college] and spread it further throughout the county,” Gosden said.
Over the summer and throughout the fall 2016 semester, members of the chapter worked together and created Unity Day.
“It was a huge team effort, especially with our adviser, Dr. Bette Simmons.” said Gosden.
Unity Day kicked off with a cultural experience all college students can enjoy – free food. The event was catered by Forte Pizza, representing Italian culture, as well as a Dover restaurant which served empanadas from Spanish culture.
Attendees then had time to walk around the room lined with tables, each representing a specific culture.
“Those helming the tables displayed travel photos and various mementos from his or her respective culture,” said Nicholas Sisti, an attendee and contributor to Unity Day.
PTK included an informational kiosk designed to educate students on cultures the event was not representing directly. This was achieved by having a laptop open with heads of the table handy if anyone had questions.
“We would then briefly research on the internet whatever culture the student asked about and provide them with insight,” Sisti, a table head, said.
“We didn’t want to exclude anyone because that would defeat the purpose of the project,” Gosden said.
After some free time to explore the tables, everyone came together to participate in various group activities such as games and dancing. A game teaching colors in Italian was featured, as well as three different cultural dances from Greek, Korean and Spanish culture.
The dancing was like “one big multi-cultural dance party,” said Sisti.
In total, the event attracted about 50 people, a slightly higher number than expected by the chapter. Both the United Latino Organization and the Asian Students Association joined the event and contributed to its successes.
“Our Unity Day Event led to a greater appreciation of different cultures by a wide variety of students from across campus,” said Mohammad Rahmatullah, secretary of PTK.
In addition to hosting an upcoming blood drive and other various fundraisers, Phi Theta Kappa plans on duplicating Unity Day in the 2017 spring semester. Students can look forward to seeing this event brought back to campus and hopefully an expanded window of time to allow anyone interested in attending a greater opportunity to do so.
“If any students have any questions about PTK or how to join, they can stop by the office in room 130 in the Student Community Center,” said Gosden.
As multiple board members of PTK will be graduating at the end of this semester, Gosden and other executives expressed hope that the event will ultimately get passed down to the language department so Unity Day can make a customary appearance on campus in the future.
Any students with questions about PTK or about how to join can contact President Michael Gosden in SCC130.