One aspect of college life that provides eye-opening experiences is a culturally diverse student body. Immersing oneself in an environment defined by different religious, ethnic, and racial backgrounds creates an expanded knowledge base and understanding of oneself and others. Luckily for Queens College students, the Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding (CERRU) concentrates the world’s diversity into real, applicable venues and events. Students are offered personal, intimate sessions in which they can learn about others.
This past Tuesday evening, students gathered in the Queens College Ballroom in the Student Union for an outstanding kick-off event by CERRU. The New Year-themed occasion unified a wide spectrum of student clubs. Whether a club offered religious learning opportunities or gender-based equality information sessions, everyone interacted with one another and had the chance to learn about different groups. It should come as no surprise that the Muslim Student Association (MSA), Hillel, and Gay, Lesbian and Straight Alliance were stationed alongside one another.
The idea that everyone—regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity—celebrates the beginning of a new year served as a basis for conversation and engagement. The program began with a ten-second countdown that mimicked the excitement surrounding every New Year. When the crowded room reached “Zero!!!”, a shofar was blown by a member of the Student Hillel. Following the sound, a Hillel representative explained what the crowd had just heard. This beige and brown ram’s horn, which is blown by a skilled player, holds symbolic importance for the start of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana. The rest of the evening followed this route, with each group sharing a unique aspect of their mission or beliefs.
The president of CERRU gathered everyone onto the main floor for a speed dating-style icebreaker. Two circles were formed; the inner circle faced the outer circle and introduced themselves. Each ring of students then inquired about the interests and values of the other after sharing some of their own.
CERRU is an organization with which students should certainly take the time to associate. This New Year’s event encouraged students to step beyond their limited base of awareness. CERRU fosters enriching experiences and new friendships, in addition to creating fun, enjoyable events. Look out for their next event on the Queens College campus.