On Thursday, Nov. 18, CU Denver and the Student Government Association held the Cultural Diversity Festival at the Tivoli Turnhalle. This year’s event came after the annual festival was cancelled in 2020, which made it even more special. There were food vendors representing all but one of the continents, along with music and dance performances—and the first 100 attendees received free bento boxes.
Celebration of Student Diversity
Jazmin Teran-Balbuena, a marketing major who serves as event & planning chair for SGA and works part time as a marketing coordinator for CU Denver Events and Activities, planned the 2021 Cultural Diversity Festival. She focused on food for this year’s event and ensured that all food vendors offered authentic ethnic cuisine. “I thought it would be a fun experience for students to get to know different cultures by different flavors,” she said. “Students will have the ability to sit down and really talk to each other as they’re sharing a plate of food—it’s something meaningful.”
Jaime Ingrisano, assistant director for student engagement, helped Teran-Balbuena as she planned the festival. Ingrisano agrees that food is a powerful symbol. “The act of breaking bread with other people is just something that crosses all traditions,” she said.
Different student and faculty/staff groups attended the Cultural Diversity Festival. The affinity groups offered information about their services, as well as different activities, including henna art, beading, and drawing. The event also featured Mexican folk dance, mariachi music, and a Native American healing dance.
Really Powerful Moment
During the event, Ashley Miles, president of the Native American Student Organization, read CU Denver’s land acknowledgment. Gracie Redshirt Tyon, the director of American Indian Student Services and a proud alum, spoke before she participated in a dance for healing. “I want to give a hand to all of our students because they are working so hard to obtain their degrees and achieve their goals, and I’m really glad to be part of this community,” she said.
Teran-Balbuena was happy the event was successful. “I think it’s awesome to highlight different cultures and make sure everybody feels they have a place at CU Denver,” she said. “It was a really powerful moment for our very diverse campus.”