Intercultural Festival returning to GVSU

By Annie Giffels | 3/15/18 2:11am

GVL / Luke Holmes - Sexy Accents Night was held in the Grand River Room on Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2017.

Coming to campus is the annual Intercultural Festival, a three-day-long celebration of the diversity and many different cultures represented here at Grand Valley State University. 

Hosted by Laker Traditions, this festival began in 2005 but has established roots going all the way back to 1963, just after GVSU was founded. The event was first called the Ethnic Festival,  but its name was changed to the Intercultural Festival in 2005 to include more topics of diversity, as opposed to focusing solely on ethnicity. This year’s event is taking place from Tuesday, March 20, through Thursday, March 22, in the Kirkhof Center.

The event will focus heavily on the different ethnicities and cultural traditions that can be seen here on campus, but it will also dive into other sources of diversity, such as various religions and sexual orientations. In short, the Intercultural Festival seeks to celebrate diversity in the broadest sense of the word. 

“The Intercultural Festival recognizes that culture represents a spectrum of traits in people that are not only confined in ethnicity,” said Hailey Merritt, one of the organizers for the event, via email. “We hope that this event will aid people in recognizing how we all belong to a culture and that we should celebrate what makes us who we are.”

Students and staff alike are encouraged by the Laker Traditions team to go and learn something new, whether it be about their own culture or the culture of someone else. In addition to diversity, the festival will also focus on inclusivity. 

During the festival, a wide array of events are planned to help attendees learn and take in pride in the many different types of cultures, religions and ethnicities that the GVSU community is home to. 

Students and faculty are invited to expand their knowledge of the many topics that go hand in hand with diversity. With events like the Transgender Day of Visibility Keynote, Conversations of Color, inclusion workshops and many other activities scheduled, the coordinators of this festival are confident that attendees will find no time to be bored. 

“We have events at different times during the day so that there is something for someone to attend at any time,” Merritt said. 

Merrit teamed up with fellow student Kadison Klausing to lead this event. The pair’s planning will be crucial in ensuring that attendees feel welcome and at home, no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation, among other things. 

“Together, Kadison and I are both making sure that everything goes grand and that our planning will create an inclusive atmosphere for Grand Valley students to engage in new experiences,” Merrit said. “We want those who will be engaged with the festival to enjoy good seminars, dancing, displays and to walk away learning something new about a culture different from their own.” 

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