Many people from across campus participate in two of the Intercultural Development office’s student groups: Intercultural Club and La Mosaic. Each organization has a purpose, as well as a message they hope to communicate to the campus through their events.
I-Club serves as a bridge at Northwestern and seeks to unite different communities across campus. They emphasize the excitement of connecting with new cultures and meeting people from a variety of backgrounds. This is something that students from all areas of campus are invited to be a part of, regardless of race, culture, ethnicity, home country or personal background.
“We believe in the beauty and unifying power of diversity and difference,” said student representative Ali Almail. “We changed our name from International Club to Intercultural Club to emphasize that I-Club is for everyone willing to step into the exciting endeavor of engaging with different cultures and perspectives.”
To accomplish its mission of promoting diversity on campus, I-Club hosts a variety of campus events that are designed to celebrate different cultures and help expose students to the food, music, dances and styles of those cultures.
These events include the yearly I-Club Coffeehouse and the Cultural Fair, both of which celebrate students’ cultures by giving them a space to perform, cook, display their art and share pieces of themselves with the campus community.
Of course, like other organizations on campus, I-Club and La Mosaic are faced with the challenges of adjusting and altering their events in lieu of the pandemic. Both groups still aim to continue working to build connections and dignify difference while still taking proper precautions.
“Social distancing may imply that because we are separated, we cannot build community, which is wrong,” Almail said.
I-Club Coffeehouse is scheduled to still take place, starting at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9 in the intercultural office area in Ramaker, where there will be a variety of performances, a space to form great connections, and a great deal of Town Square coffee.
Extra precautions for events involving food, like Coffeehouse, include a limited amount of people serving food and a minimized number of shared surfaces. Venue changes for events are common as well, including La Mosaic’s group discussions, which may be moved to the Vogel Room or to the chapel.
Though some events may be postponed for future years, and some events will be altered or adjusted for safety, many events from both groups will still be held this year, and all of campus is invited to attend.
In addition to these large events, I-Club also hosts small food nights and more intimate gatherings to help people get connected with those who might be different than them.
La Mosaic’s role on campus looks similar to that of I-Club but with a more focused purpose. It serves as a support group and is designed to fit the needs and desires of its members. To do so, they schedule events and activities surrounding hot topics and subjects of personal meaning. This includes immigration, the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality, and they look for ways to grow together.
“La Mosaic is a space that allows for people of many backgrounds to come together, discuss issues that matter to them, learn from each other and enjoy growing in fellowship with one another,” said Johnathan Johnson, intercultural intern. “It’s intended to be a safe space for all to come together and unapologetically be themselves.”
One of La Mosaic’s biggest events is the Beloved Festival held each spring. This festival highlights the diverse artistic talents of the NW students and faculty, as well as the greater Northwest Iowa community.
It usually involves musical performances of various genres that represent a myriad of cultures. La Mosaic also partners with the Campus Ministry team to host group discussions with some of the guest chapel speakers. These events normally dive deeper into topics the students find pressing or interesting. Other fun events include things like mini golf, movie nights, game nights, laser tag and bowling.
“We are all passionate about very different things but stand on the same moral platform that every human is deserving of love, respect and to be represented,” said student leader Neftali Ramirez.