Written by: Jessica Bradford 

On Saturday, August 30, 2020, Juniors Summer Smith and Josiah Donald, along with the help of others, including OKWU alumni Larissa Hale, put on an event that allowed all students on campus to come together to learn about other cultures. 

Smith, when talking about the night, said, “The purpose of Culture Connections is to have OKWU pursue Christ and unity through conversations. In addition, many of us are unaware of the beautiful intricacies of someone else’s culture. Josiah and I want to use Culture Connections as a catalyst to change that atmosphere.” The event had food, a variety of music, games outside, and interaction between students and faculty. The food at the event was comprised of dishes from a few different countries. The dishes at the event were Prebranac beans from Serbia, Falafels, Brigadeiro from Ecuador, KOH from Serbia, Pan de Yuca from Ecuador, and Ice Cream from Walmart. The food was delicious, paired well with music that was played was from several different countries. 

The interactions between everyone was amazing because of the attitude of willingness to learn about all the different cultures. Sophomore Vanessa Fernandez said, “Being able to dive into other people’s cultures makes me realize that you can have fun in other cultures.” This is how it should be when diving into others life and where they come from.” Smith echoed this when she said, “This ‘Beyond the Border’ event marks a new beginning. I won’t let a ‘cute event’ end what needs to start: conversations. I want to hear people’s voices as I want my own voice to be heard. It’s time for the OKWU culture to go beyond its border and let the unheard voices roar!” This is a true statement of the eagerness for this kind of change on campus. We have let society define today’s culture when we should be finding the definition ourselves. Donald said, “It starts with us, we’re the future. If no one is willing to have these type of discussions and conversations, then who will? The answer is we will. It starts with us taking the initiative and being bold enough to take action.” Are we all willing to act and talk about the things that are going on today? 

While reflecting on the event Junior Desiree Nziramasanga said, “It was a time to remember.” Senior Callie Brezillac had similar things to say when she said, “The ‘Beyond the Border’ event was so much fun in so many ways: friends, food, fun, and experiencing new cultures!” Original organizer Alumni/Faculty member Natalie Church said, “I have loved being a part of this event and have met so many new people tonight. I am excited for this momentum to continue into the semester.” 

It sounds like the event was a great success! If any student, faculty member, or staff member are interested in being involved in the Culture Connections club, contact Summer Smith or Josiah Donald, as well as check out @okwulife on Instagram for all the details.