Seton Hall’s Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC) hosted its second annual holiday celebration in the Main Lounge on Dec. 5.
The event, called “In the Americas,” was co-sponsored by the Office of International Programs and focused on the different holiday cultures of North America, South America and the Caribbean Islands. Chinez Madueke, advisor for MAC and assistant director for Leadership Development, said that the idea for the theme was derived from a series of several MAC events discussing diversity in the United States.
“We tend to only focus on the United States when we talk about America,” she said. “During our SHUnity event, we get together to talk about unity on campus and program a theme. So this year, we programmed around the theme of including all of the Americas.”
Students came together to enjoy light cuisine from several different countries, which was prepared by Meson Tropical, a Latin American and Caribbean restaurant in Linden and Munchie’s, a Jamaican eatery in South Orange. Savory dishes such as jerk chicken and beef patties were served along with tres leches cake for dessert.
Each table featured a centerpiece that displayed a fact about the holiday customs and traditions of each country in the Americas. Madueke said that these centerpieces were designed to educate the students while also creating topics for discussion.
Lakshmi Vemuri, a sophomore diplomacy major and the team coordinator, said that these centerpieces also contribute to recognizing those students on campus who come from different backgrounds and bringing them together.
“We are promoting the different cultures around the United States and representing those around us who come from different backgrounds,” Vemuri said. “It is our overall way of promoting diversity and bringing everyone together.”
According to the Seton Hall MAC website, the committee “is dedicated to cultivating and promoting an inclusive multicultural involvement community that promotes the importance of shared vision, social connection and collaborative efforts.” It also has a vision of a campus “that supports cultural differences and dialogues in diversity through education, celebration and appreciation.”
Playing on-screen in the center of the stage was a video series that the MAC started last year, “SHUnity.” Each episode focused on either an important self-reflection or general diversity question being answered by SHU students around campus during MAC events. In one of the featured episodes, students were sharing their own personal experiences based on their identities.
“It really makes you think about the opportunities that some people may not have,” Madueke said.
While students continued to enjoy the evening of international food and festive music, they also constructed their own gingerbread houses. Several gingerbread house stations were set up in the corner of the room.
Alex Bloom, a sophomore political science and Catholic studies major, said that this was his favorite part of the event.
“I was able to let my creative flag fly,” Bloom said.
Bloom also said that he really enjoyed the plantains and that the facts on the tables were informative and that he believes that it is a great way to educate students about different cultures and their holiday celebrations.
Madueke said that she hopes she will be able to continue “The Americas” theme for MAC next semester.
“I think this is part of a conversation that we all need to have,” she said.
“We need to know who we really are as Americans, what is important to us, and what we value.”
Liam Oakes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.