2014 Multicultural Festival


Now in its 24th year, the University of Redlands annual Living on Common Ground Multicultural Festival continues to inspire both the student body and community with its dedication to honoring diversity.

“I see Living on Common Ground as a celebration of all that we do on this campus to bring people together, regardless of their individual identifications,” Leela MadhavaRau, associate dean for Campus Diversity and Inclusion, said. “The Festival provides a chance for celebration, participation, laughter, questions and answers and town and gown participation. It is little wonder that such an event has entered its third decade. It addresses a fundamental need in all of us to find common ground with one another and build community. It is very important to remember that this event has always included in its title ‘Living on Common Ground.' We want students, faculty, staff and members of the broader Redlands community to come together on this land which once belonged to the Serrano peoples, members of which tribe will open the Festival.”

This year’s event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5 on the Quad. It is free and open to the public. As an added bonus, the Festival will take place during the same time as Admitted Students Day.

“Having Multicultural Festival and Admitted Students Day on the same day is a wonderful collaboration,” MadhavaRau said. “Many students comment on their first memory of Redlands being Admitted Students Day and walking through the Festival, listening and watching the incredible performers.”

Attendees can expect dancing, musical performances, activities for children, booths selling specialty wares, and more.

“As co-directors of the 24th Annual Living on Common Ground Multicultural Festival, we have the honor of planning a spectacular event that celebrates various cultures through music, food, arts, crafts, and activities,” Ivy Ortega ’14 and Andrea Rodriguez ’15 said in a statement. “We are ecstatic and pleased to bring together the campus and community on common ground once again for a tradition that was created by Jana Wilcoxen. It is our pleasure to continue what started as one individual's vision to celebrate community while breaking down barriers."

Wilcoxen ’91 was a student in the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies, and put together the first Multicultural Festival as her senior project.

“The idea for the Festival grew out of a series of events during my junior year, although the seeds probably lay dormant in me since childhood, as my mother was a teacher and I grew up attending Plains Indian powwows, Mexican Independence Day fiestas and Passover Seders and the like,” Wilcoxen wrote in a reflective essay on the Festival. “The process of organizing the Festival and the Festival itself were about breaking down barriers. Not just barriers between people from different cultures, but also between students from different sides of the campus, between students and Redlands community residents, and even the barrier between performer and audience. Put another way, I wanted to break down the barriers between us and them and focus on we.”

Now, 24 years later, that same spirit of coming together as one is still alive.

“I do think that events such as this help to increase acceptance of difference,” MadhavaRau said. “Without knowledge, humans rely on stereotypes to categorize individuals who are different from anyone they have met previously. Any event that provides an opportunity for people to meet and mingle in a joyous environment will help to ease tensions that can occur.”

Posted: March 28, 2014
Written by: Catherine Garcia

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