The Brandeis Intercultural Center (ICC) is celebrating its 25th anniversary on Friday, April 28 and Saturday, April 29. First started by a group of students named the Push Committee, the ICC has served as an umbrella organization for cultural clubs since 1992. The two-day event will focus on celebrating the impact the ICC has had on Brandeis student life with its cultural diversity.
Friday, a welcome reception will host keynote speakers including past directors and Elaine Wong, one of the first staff members of the ICC in 1992. Wong will address the transformation she has witnessed in the past 25 years, according to Madeleine López, the current director of the ICC. “We have a reception that will be thanking the larger Brandeis community; students, alumni and staff are welcome to join us,” said López. “It will be an opportunity to have perspectives of the role and transformation of the ICC.”
The celebration on Saturday will begin with a tour of the newly opened Brandeis Gender and Sexuality Center, which has been a part of the ICC since 2016. “It is a center that’s committed to offering a welcoming space for our LGBTQI community and also creating an inclusive environment at Brandeis,” López said.
Dr. Janice Johnson Dias ’94 will give a keynote speech Saturday at 11 a.m. Dias, co-creator of the GrassROOTS Community Foundation (GCF), a public health and social action organization, will address the role of students at Brandeis and beyond, according to López.
An alumni panel discussion will also take place on Saturday afternoon. The Push Committee that initiated eight years of activism for the opening of the ICC in 1992 will be leading the discussion. “Really hearing from the Push Committee and those staff members reflect what it was like 25 years ago is exciting,” said Montgomery Thomas, diversity specialist at the ICC.
The two-day event will end with a feature showcase on Saturday evening: the annual Culture X performance, an annual student-organized production that celebrates diversity within the Brandeis community. The showcase combines different cultural performances. “Culture X was also started by a diverse group of students, and they wanted it just to be a fun way that different cultures came together. It’s student started, student organized and student driven,” López said. Culture X is celebrating its 17th anniversary this year.
“Originally it was eight clubs and now we are 18 clubs. We are fully inaugurated into the Brandeis community. So our celebrations are not limited to club attendance. It really is a moment to be excited about the vision that group of students had and worked for,” López said. In the past 25 years, the ICC has managed to expand significantly.
The ICC has successfully improved the awareness of different cultures and diversity within the Brandeis community. “What is important about the ICC is that it has served as a space where you can just feel comfortable, a space you can treat almost like a home, a space where you can just have open dialogues with folks who can share the same commonality and interest as a person,” Thomas said.
Looking forward, Thomas has profound expectations for the ICC. “I hope that they can continue to broaden and make the ICC well-known among different cultural centers across the country and program an engagement in collaboration with a great staff, really creating opportunities, working with students from diverse backgrounds,” he said. He also believes that creating awareness among high school and middle school students is also important. “Creating different programs that we can work with, including high school and middle school students, will help promote the awareness of diversity and prepare them for a more diverse college life,” Thomas said.
“We are very excited,” López said. The celebration of the ICC will serve as a historic milestone within the Brandeis community.