ALANA Conference examines diversity, equality, prejudice

Students of diverse cultures came together for an annual conference that included numerous interactive events designed to bring an understanding and appreciation to different groups of people at Oswego State.

The African, Latino, Asian and Native American (ALANA) Student Leadership Conference started its 24th year on Sunday, Sept. 19 with its first-ever Peace and Unity Walk. The walk was organized by Quindell Williams, public relations office for ALANA, and Damaris Dunn, vice president of the Black Student Union. The trek started in downtown Oswego and ended at Penfield Library.

Other events going on this week included a "Misconceptions of Rape" program on Tuesday Sept. 21, and a "Day of Expression" program, also on Tuesday, full of acting, singing, storytelling and dancing from various cultures.

Another part of the busy week was a Sunday service presenting the Gospel Choir, African dancing and drumming on Monday, a "Tea Time" workshop on Thursday, a lecture from poet Oveous Maximus on Thursday and a cornhusk doll workshop Friday. Among the many interactive events, there will also be a fashion show Friday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m., a concert presenting Sol y Canto and the Sweet Plantain String Quartet on Saturday and a dinner reception on Saturday, all in Waterman Theatre.

The theme of ALANA this year is "One Love One Life." This theme was designed to teach students, as well as the community off-campus, to have a better appreciation of the diversity that we encounter every day.

"We’re all a community here and we want to branch off and include everyone not just on campus, but off campus," Williams said. "‘One Love One Life’ is basically saying we’re all united as one to come together for a positive cause."

Magdalena Rivera recently came into the new role of Student Involvement Coordinator at The Point last year, and worked with all the different groups to put the conference together. She had the privilege of watching ALANA blossom from a small organization to a large week-long event.

"It depends on what the students bring to the table because as the years go by we get a different set of students with different ideas," she said.

Not only is ALANA an organization aimed at bringing together various groups of people, but it also aims to speak to those who are underprivileged.

"A lot of the programs this year are very different," Rivera said. "We have some workshops that are educating about specific artists or actors that are from a different culture that have started with very little and have become successful while overcoming barriers."

The ALANA conference will come to a close Sunday evening with the goal of leaving students with an open mind and a better comprehension of the varying cultures on campus.

" I think the turnout and the response has been really positive and exciting and the energy is there," Williams said. "We just hope we can keep it up for the rest of the week, and also for the rest of the semester."