Rhythmic and syncopated drum beats, incessant laughter and yelps of excitement from winning teams could be heard from a distance upon entering the Cornell Campus Center last Friday evening. The Office of Multicultural Affairs hosted its first annual OMA Olympics where first-year students were integrated with current OMA students to learn about diversity through traditional drum circles, lively belly dancing performances, and interactive and competitive games.
The evening began with drum circles, which became an instant hit. The tribal style drum jam created a community feel amongst the first-years as some of them created unified beats, while others freely improvised their own rhythm. Melissa Looby ‘15 said, “The highlight of the OMA Olympics, for me, was the drum circle. My RCC [Landscape of Music] is all music majors, so we played around with the rhythms and dynamics. It was incredibly fun to play those drums and watch all of my peers rock out, too.”
A very special guest who also rocked out with the firstyears was Laurie Joyner, dean of the college. As she got to know both the first-years and the current OMA students, she emphasized the importance of appreciating diversity. “It is important to offer diversity programs on our campus, and we are lucky to have a number of different events embracing diversity. OMA is critical in connection with our mission as a college, which is to become a responsible leader and a global citizen.”
An interactive game called “Yes!” definitely became the foundation of enthusiasm and positivity for the evening. The idea of the game was to embrace the spirit of honoring someone’s idea, even if it was not in line with that person’s singular vision, and to embrace it with as much enthusiasm as you could give. The question for the game was “What is your dream university?” Understandably, some of the students were tentative to say their ideas at first, in fear of rejection or judgment. However, once the first student gave an answer (“It would be in New York!”), there was a stupendous amount of chanting and thunderous applause. Pretty soon other visions emerged: “100 percent retention rate!” “Fox Day every day!” “Free Food!” “Always hot showers!” “No exams!” “A Football Team!”
The competitive games and activities gave the students the ability to look outside themselves and become aware of cultural and diverse values. Bradley Baker ‘15 said, “The best part about the night was getting to know new people in an event with a little competition, not just a sit-around-and-talk event. Having the games made getting to know fellow students much easier.
From the fact sheet quiz, I never knew that there were so many cultural based groups out there, and was very surprised how many are present at Rollins College. Diversity is important to have on a campus because not everyone is the same; if we were it would be boring. For our campus to have as much diversity as it does makes Rollins special. Everyone can find where they are supposed to be and where they feel comfortable.”
Kaitlyn Christiansen ‘13, who is currently a Peer Mentor for Landscape of Music, said, “It is important to embrace the diversity on our campus mainly because there are so many people from so many different countries. I went to an animal shelter this morning and volunteered with a senior from Argentina; she is the first person I met from Argentina and it’s so awesome knowing that Rollins supports cultures from around the world.”
OMA Olympics was a great way to start off the school year, engaging first-year students in games and activities about embracing diversity.