Diversity week at Symonds

Posted on: 03/12/2008

Written by Isaac Lee

Peter Symonds College celebrated the vast differences within itself in a Diversity Week during November.

The Student Union ran events and stalls designed to highlight the various cultures, races, and beliefs that populate Peter Symonds.  These included: Henna painting; a lecture from Holocaust survivor Josef Perl; a performance from the college’s burgeoning hip-hop dance group, and a fashion show.

A full house turned out for Josef Perl’s talk in the Science Lecture Theatre, there was such a large interest that many were turned away because the theatre was full. A promise was made that Mr Perl would be invited back to the college at a later date. Those who did attend witnessed a powerful message of the past to us, the bearers of the future.

Josef Perl’s story and his message captured the attention of the students. His theme was that there should be mutual tolerance and care between one and another. He told students that:  “You are our future, and the world is in your hands. Build a better world for you, your children and your children’s children.”

Mr Perl lived through horrific experiences, including witnessing the execution of his mother, four sisters, his nephews and niece. One attendee said: “His talk was very powerful – he is a marvellous speaker and really conjured up the times for us all.”  Symonds was privileged to have Mr Perl to speak, and the students responded to his message with great respect. Teacher Sandra Showall said: “You could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium.”

Likewise, but on the other end of the spectrum, the hip-hop performance, held in the Mercers Sports Hall was also a success. It attracted a large turnout of students eager to get a glimpse of talent, new and old.  The performance was enhanced by the appearance of two professional dancers who had spent time working with many of hip-hops big names, for example Beyonce.
Symonds’ students provided phenomenal support, cheering and applauding as the dancers moved into position. The performance reflected much of the work and practice of two months and revealed potential and promise that the hip-hop dance group can go on to greater heights. One member, Karmen Tang, a relatively experienced dancer revealed that despite the small amount of time spent practising they displayed “good co-ordination and co-operation, and worked well together”. Symonds students showed that they aren’t shy when it comes to moving on a dance floor as several performed their own improvised pieces, wowing the audience with some silky moves.

There was also a multi-cultural fashion show, demonstrating the many cultures that make up Peter Symonds. It featured fashion from contemporary western or European styles, to costumes from Africa, to dresses and robes from India and Bengal.  One teacher took part; the law department’s Kuldeep Chehal, demonstrating that even age should not be a barrier.  

While students attending said the show was “good fun and very colourful”, Kuldeep said that “it [the fashion show] was a good representation of diversity, it showed that, yes, there are different cultures in Symonds, and yes we can have fun and work together.”

These events happened due to the celebration of cultural and racial diversity within Peter Symonds, but in a month when America has just elected its first black president, it seems the world needs to consider and celebrate more the massive diversity it has and enjoy how each and every one of us is different.

Did you visit any of the events? What are your thoughts? Did you enjoy Diversity Week? Add your comments below.


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