The last week of February marked the Center for Diversity and Inclusion’s (CDI) annual Culture Connect Week (CCW). Culture Connect Week is the celebration and connection of the various aspects of diversity at the University of Houston through multicultural programs, collaborations, and social events.
This year’s Culture Connect Week theme, For the Culture – UH Culture, highlighted how the cultural identities, stories, and experiences of each individual member of our campus community contribute to UH’s identity.
Culture Connect Week kicked off on Monday, February 25th with a cultural conversation, For the Culture – Use Your Voice, led by CDI’s REACH Diversity Peer Educators. This discussion engaged students in conversation on the importance of the millennial vote. During the evening, UH National Pan-Hellenic Council hosted its first Run the Yard Stroll Off that showcased the culture and history of the “Divine Nine” organizations at the University of Houston.
On Tuesday, February 26th, in partnership with UH Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, African American Studies, College of Education, and Creative Writing Program, CDI hosted the first Word 4 Word spoken word showcase. Featuring guest performance artist J Mase III, UH students had the opportunity to step up to the mic and share about their cultural identities and how they are impacted by social justice issues. Graduate student, Janise Powell, walked away as the first winner of Word 4 Word .
Janise Powell, said this about participating in Word 4 Word : “Word 4 Word was an opportunity for me to step outside of my comfort zone and share a part of myself that not many people get to see. This event not only let me express myself but helped me to find a community of amazing artists to continue to learn from and grow with.”
Other events hosted as a part of Culture Connect Week included International Mother Language Day hosted by the International Mother Language Task Force, Diversity Panel on Race & Ethnicity Abroad hosted by Learning Abroad and CDI. UH Gamma Rho Lambda Kappa Chapter partnered with CDI to host Let’s Go, ‘n Vogue which immerses students in the history of ball culture and its relevance to the LGBTQ community. The event featured drag performances from UH students.
CDI hosted its annual Dance Fusion on Thursday, February 28th. This year, Dance Fusion showcased Carnival, the cultural experience celebrated in over fifty countries around the world. Students learned cultural dance lessons from members of the UH Black Student Union (BSU), and community-based group Sambabom Brazilian Dance Company. The night ended with a dance social which provided students with the opportunity to connect with each other.
When asked to describe her experience teaching a cultural dance at Dance Fusion , BSU President Kendall Hollingsworth said, “I had the opportunity to teach students a little bit about the history of whining, and how it comes into play with my own personal ancestry. I got to interact with very different students I may not have had the opportunity to. In the end, that’s what it’s all about; different groups of students coming together to share a great experience.”
Culture Connect Week concluded on Friday, March 1st with the Empower Women’s Leadership Conference, sponsored by the Women and Gender Resource Center and the Center for Student Involvement.
The Center for Diversity and Inclusion looks forward to hosting Culture Connect Week next year, as UH campus members celebrate the various aspects of diversity that make UH a powerhouse.