Dinner and a show

Students celebrate diverse cultures at W&L

Students of all nationalities participated in the SAIL fashion show. Photo by Savannah Kimble, ‘18.

Students of all nationalities participated in the SAIL fashion show. Photo by Savannah Kimble, ‘18.

Alex Kinzer

Fighting for a Southern Inn reservation? Not a chance!

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion held its sixty-first annual parents and family weekend multicultural dinner in Evans Dining Hall on Oct. 3 in a packed Evans Dining Hall.

Students and their families listened to seven senior reflection speeches, heard an original remix of the song “Empire State of Mind”, watched a multicultural fashion show and danced together.

The tone of the evening ranged from excited to serious. The night started on a fun note with Ijezie Ikwuezunma, ’16, and Anthonia Adams, ’16, performing “The Washington and Lee State of Mind.”

Their remix of the Jay-Z and Alicia Keys song “Empire State of Mind” talked about life at Washington and Lee and in Lexington, and included a shout-out to President Kenneth Ruscio, who also attended the dinner. According to Associate Dean of Students Tamara Futrell, Ruscio has never missed a multicultural dinner during his tenure as President of W&L.

But the night turned serious during the senior reflection speeches. Students reflected on their experiences abroad, adjusting to life in Lexington and their understanding of diversity.

Several seniors highlighted an overlooked aspect of diversity: diversity of thought and experience.

“The real definition of diversity is the sum total of the difference of adversity we all face,” Anthony Hodges, ‘16, said. “The hardships, the trials and tribulations you face in life… the moments where you feel lost even though you’re found, dead though alive, those moments are what shape you. They’re what make you different… and here at Washington and Lee University, we know the struggle. We love diversity, because we love each other.”

After the speeches, the mood lightened again as the Student Association for International Learning fashion show began. This year’s show featured students, parents and faculty in traditional costume from countries around the world, such as a Nigerian Ankara dress worn by Adams.

Adams said she was excited to participate in the multicultural dinner again after having a positive experience in the past.

“They [past dinners] were absolutely fantastic, and you learn so much about everyone’s different culture,” Adams said. “It was a moment of pride for the international students.”

Futrell, who is also the head of the dinner’s sponsor, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, was pleased with this year’s multicultural dinner.

“It was an amazing event,” Futrell said. “We probably had about 240 people. The food was great, the energy is great and people are still ready to party.”