To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Intercultural Center celebrates its 31st anniversary

The Brandeis Intercultural Center (ICC) is a shared meeting space for the diverse campus culture clubs and is located in Swig Hall. As described on the ICC webpage, “The ICC is dedicated to creating a haven of respect, education and celebration that aims to develop critical consciousness and awareness of the myriad cultures of Brandeis University.” 


On Friday, March 3, the ICC celebrated its 31st anniversary by inviting all community members to understand the center’s history. The event showcased an art gallery along one wall as well as a new collaged mural featuring a landscape background composed of individual pictures from ICC events and participants. 


The Brandeis Hoot was able to conduct interviews with a sample of ICC organizations. These groups provided insight into how the ICC impacts student clubs. Karen Girsang ’25, current president of Southeast Asia Club (SEAC), discussed her thoughts on the matter. The Southeast Asia Club seeks to represent, promote awareness and celebrate the cultures and traditions of diverse Southeast Asian countries, she described. In her view, the ICC enables minority groups on campus to collaborate and build community with one another. “We acknowledge each other’s presence and try our best to support each other in learning more about culture and respecting one another,” Girsang shared. 


Furthermore, Girsang detailed how SEAC has benefited from designated ICC club resources, saying, “SEAC is grateful for the opportunities that the ICC has given us, as we would not be able to function as a proper organization without it. The impact that the ICC has is monumental in that the resources given have the power to help minorities at Brandeis be seen. And through this, we celebrate our culture and where we came from, and therefore who we will be in the future.” 


Moving forward, SEAC maintains that student access to the ICC is important in fulfilling the club’s goals of proudly showcasing Southeast Asian culture through food, dance, song and celebration with the broader Brandeis community.


Brandeis’ South Asian Student Association (SASA) also shared how their club is impacted by the ICC in an interview between The Hoot and SASA Presidents Aaryuj Trehan ’24, Aman Qutab ’24 and Nandini Mandaloju ’24. In a collective email response, the presidents shared that the mission of SASA is to uplift and celebrate South Asian cultures from countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. 


In addition to serving as a place of celebration, SASA also conducts informational events to bring greater awareness to multicultural issues. One event series that SASA hosts is “SASA Stories”; this semester’s event will focus on the intersection of South Asian, Black and Latino/a communities. Later on, the club will collaborate with Heller’s Myanmar/Burma Student Association to host an informative discussion about the current Freedom Movement occurring in Myanmar. 


The SASA presidents cited the multifaceted ways in which they use the ICC, from hosting regular events like Game Night, SASA Social and Paint Night, to hosting general board meetings and open study halls. They reflected on how the ICC has impacted culture clubs on campus as a whole, saying, “The ICC impacts different student culture clubs by empowering us to be proud to represent our culture and find ways to stay connected to our roots … Unlike other schools who say ‘multicultural center,’ Brandeis calls it the ‘intercultural center.’ The prefix “inter” in the intercultural center emphasizes how cross-cultural collaboration is important in order to promote education and openness to different cultures.”


During one of the ICC’s Town Hall meetings, the SASA representatives recalled meeting one of the founders, or a member of the “Push Committee,” who strived to establish the ICC in 1992. “It was incredibly powerful and inspiring to see the purpose for the ICC is being carried on every year by students who wish to represent and celebrate their cultures. We believe that it is important to support and secure future access to the ICC in order to provide a space for future students at Brandeis to foster growth and awareness for other cultures!” they concluded.


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