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Gettin’ to know the ICC

By Jennifer S. Lin

Section: Arts

January 30, 2009

<i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Anyone who’s ever made the trek down the steep hill to the recently renovated Swig Center in East Quad knows that the trip is worth it. That’s because it contains the heart and soul of cultural diversity here at Brandeis: the Intercultural Center (ICC). The walls of the ICC regularly play host to a multitude of student activities, from dances and discussions to community service, academics and more.

The many student organizations under the umbrella of the Center were founded on the principles of leadership, social responsibility, and cultural awareness. These groups each represent a unique part of Brandeis, and, together as a community, they create a special family that can’t be found at many other universities.

The ICC provides a haven for students to gather and celebrate diversity, express their views, and pursue a different kind of learning that is both experiential and receptive to new ideas. Its history can be traced back to the 1960s, when the idea of creating a space for students of color to express themselves first took root.

It was in 1992 that the Intercultural Center officially opened with the theme of “A Vision Realized”. Since then, Brandeis has seen the Center go through many changes, and overcome many difficulties – but it has stayed strong, and in 2007, many of our current students came together to commemorate the 15th anniversary and honor the accomplishments of our many leaders over the years. As the ICC nears its 17th year, it defines itself through its ability to reach out and enrich relationships between members of the community.

Every year, new students ask the same questions about joining ICC clubs. They’re worried about not fitting in, wondering if their racial identity will prevent them from becoming a member of any ICC student group.

The answer to this question, of course, is that the particular individual ethnicities of our club members and our leaders have nothing at all to do with what our organizations are really about. The ICC strives to reach out and embrace the community, to share our cultural experiences, and to expand our horizons of identity. Absolutely everyone is welcome to join any club and learn about different traditions with their peers. The Intercultural Center contains cultural treasures that are far too often left unexplored.

Over the years, the various ICC groups have created some of the most spectacular shows on campus and produced countless thought-provoking discussions and debates. Brandeis has always supported them in their endeavors. But in these difficult times, the ICC family, along with the rest of the university, needs to come together and be creative in thinking of additional ways to celebrate, cherish and learn about diversity.

Together with the Waltham Group, the ICC has put together a community service initiative with the Greater Waltham Association for Retarded Citizens (GWARC). This is a crucial opportunity to contribute to the local community while supporting a worthy organization. Not only this, it is a chance to bring us all closer together and to see that from our differences, we can learn about ourselves and grow stronger as a whole.

All are warmly encouraged to join the ICC in this effort to spread cultural awareness. Sessions will take place on various Thursdays throughout the semester, with volunteers contributing about 2 hours of their time in the late afternoon.

Service trainings for GWARC are mandatory for participation in the program, and two separate sessions will take place in the Intercultural Center on Wed., February 4th; one from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m., and the other from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. These trainings are open to all.

The ICC would love to invite the entire Brandeis community to share in our meetings, celebrations and collaborative efforts this semester.

Stay in the know about upcoming dates by joining the mailing list or visiting the website where you can find out more about the ICC and its operations. The ICC will also be resuming its relationship with the Hoot and Diverse City through a calendar, club spotlights and material to be determined weekly.

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