At the end of next month, K-State will be implementing something new. On September 19th and 21st, an annual event called Wildcat Festival will begin to spark a long-term relationship with people from different cultures.
The idea evolved from the cultural harmony project in a class taught by Dr. Young-ok Yum, professor of communication studies. After doing much research on groups all around the world, she had her class discuss about how those groups interact with each other. Since most of her students are white, she wanted them to go out and engage in a partnership with someone from another country.
“You think that they would have grown up, being college students, but minorities separate themselves from majorities and vice versa,” Yum said. “Sometimes these groups self-segregate.”
The cultural harmony project has students experience fun and pleasant times with a diverse community for a common goal so they can develop a better perception of people. For example, some go to elementary schools and talk about prejudices and reduction of stereotypes or visit a Korean church.
Upon receiving feedback from this, Wildcat Festival was created.
“There are people from 90 countries here on campus, but all do not really hang out together,” Yum said. “We need to create a sense of community at K-State.”
Her belief is discomfort forms because of language barriers, clothes and nonverbal gestures. Because there is a lack of knowledge, fear develops inside students. Wildcat Festival will allow minorities and international students to not only come to our university but truly be a part of the Wildcat family by having events where people mingle and think together on the issues they have in common.
The Wildcat Diversity Tournament, located in the K-State Union, will take place September 19th, starting at 11 a.m. with orientation and lunch. The tournament will be held from 1-5 p.m. This is where “participants’ cultural, creative, and social competencies will be challenged via educational and entertaining game-like challenges,” event’s flyer states.
The Wildcat Concert for Peace, another part of the Wildcat Festival, will be a time for local artists, bands, and entertainers will come together to celebrate the 24-hour long ceasefire and nonviolence taking place everywhere a couple days later. The concert will be held at Memorial Stadium from 6-10:30 p.m. on Sept. 19.
In the K-State Student Union Grand Ballroom, champions of the tournament will be awarded prizes and K-Staters will dance proclaiming peace on Earth. This will last from 7-11 p.m. at the Peace and Diversity Awards Ceremony and Dance on Sept. 21, which is the International Day of Peace.
Students can register individually, or online at https://online.ksu.edu/Survey/take/takeSurvey.do?offeringId=161389. The goal is for all cultures to be represented in each group of competition during the tournament.
Donations are currently being accepted and are much needed. Brianna Schulte, 2010 graduate in public relations, said organizers’ biggest stressors are finding people to compete in the tournament, as well as garnering funds for the event itself. They are also seeking participants for things like lights, sound, staging and awards.
All money goes into the Cool ‘Cat Initiative Fund, which helps people who are going into or doing something related to academic excellence, cultural peace and diversity, intercultural dialogue and relationships.
Sunny Lucko, a student in the Academic Review for Foreign Veterinarians program, said, “why not join,” either by participating or giving monetary provisions for this event.
“It is like the door that opens the opportunity to friendships with other cultures,” Lucko said. “Sometimes, people are shy coming from another country, thinking they won’t be accepted because of their accent, eating habits or clothes. They are so scared they will be made fun of, but this even shows them that other cultures are open and want to talk with them and become friends.”
Lucko was born in Colombia but has lived in Pasadena, Calif., for the past nine years. A friend from India who is a veterinarian and K-State graduate told her about K-State. Lucko said she noticed here how Asians stick together, as do Hispanics, and it reminded her of Pasadena City College.
“In California, where there are so many different cultures, it is easy at the beginning of the semester to stay in a comfort zone, but by the middle of the semester that changes – also because teachers force students to form study groups with outsiders and, therefore, they must branch out.”
According to the mission statement of Wildcat Festival, Yum and her team are dedicated to celebrating the multiplicity and commonality among the human race, especially united in our long-held, universal dream of security, peace, prosperity and happiness in all our neighborhoods and communities. They seek to share the same freedom and comfort as Americans have, with everyone in hostile and violence-ridden neighborhoods in Kansas, the United States, and distant parts of the world.