Photos by Ralph Freso/Slideshow
The backyard was lit up with a sea of bright colors and flag patterns representing countries around the world during the One Lope Unity Walk on Tuesday night in Grand Canyon University. In the culmination of Unity Week, GCU Student Associates and the Multicultural Office joined forces to address cultural disparity and encourage representation.
Their message was clear: although we all come from different backgrounds, we all have one thing in common: we are loved by God.
“No matter who you are, your gender or the color of your skin, God loves you,” said a sophomore basketball player. Logan Landers. “And that’s something that should spread, especially in a time like now where there are riots and crazy things. I really think the world needs to know how much they are loved.
As the second incoming student transferring from another school, Landers was impressed with the encouragement of inclusivity through Unity Week events.
“It’s really good to see that GCU takes so much pride in making everyone feel welcome and loved, especially when I find what is essentially my new home.”
The One Lope Unity Walk lived up to its name by bringing the campus together.
“Unity, to me, is the opportunity to come together regardless of background, ethnicity, race or creed,” said the student director of the Multicultural Office. Theo Franco-Elias. “It gives us space and opportunity for everyone to grow and fulfill their potential, which we know everyone has, especially on this campus with a Christ-centered mission.”
An orchestra of voices echoed through the aisles of campus apartments as the large crowd marched around campus to their final destination: The Gathering.
“Seeing the different emotions in the audience – some people were impressed, some were excited and some were confused – which is good if you haven’t experienced something like that,” Franco-Elias said. “But, really, this mixture and the melting pot of emotions becomes the central goal of the unity and the teachings of the ministry of Christ.
As student body president, Camden Marasco tries to enforce the idea of shared ownership. This means involving the entire campus in events such as the Unity Walk, including the Multicultural Office, Havocs, Team Spirit, and Athletes. This shared ownership plays a vital role in Unity Week and the overall growth of GCU.
“It’s really good that everyone is coming together,” Marasco said, overlooking the waving flags. “I think a lot of times we can be in our own worlds, have our own events, or do different things that all have the same goal, but are done separately. So coming together and working towards a common goal is just awesome at see.
Among the many students who participated in the march was the residence life assistant Trinity Taunauuwho proudly represented and held the Australian flag throughout the 90 minute event.
“Even though I am not personally from Australia, I have a lot of relatives there and a lot of my culture is rooted in Australian roots. To see the performance on this campus, not just with these flags but with the language, the clothes and the culture, is very important to me,” Taunauu said.
To celebrate Unity Week and its ancestral roots, graphic design student Marguerite Trimble sported white tribal paint extending over his nose and adorning his forehead and lips.
“I’m not 100% sure what parts of Africa I’m from, but I’m a strong, independent African-American woman, and that’s why I chose war paint specifically to show power and that independence. “, said Trimble.
Students and staff still have the opportunity to participate in the rest of Unit Week events, including:
- FASHION SHOW, 6 p.m. today, Quad. The event allows students to showcase cultural clothing and provides a safe place for international students to embrace the clothing, colors and texture of their culture.
- CANVAS AND CULTURE, 6 p.m. Thursday, Canyon Field. Students are encouraged to relax, unwind and de-stress by painting on mini canvases provided by the Multicultural Office.
Although Unity Week takes place on campus one week during the academic year, for the Multicultural Office, Unity continues even after the week is over.
“One thing I love about the Multicultural Office is that kids from so many different backgrounds can have this platform to express themselves and their roots and share an essential part of themselves and their identity,” Taunauu said.
Contact editor Lydia P. Robles at 602-639-7665 or [email protected]
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