West Point celebrates annual Diversity Day
By Kathy Eastwood
West Point celebrated diversity at the fourth annual Diversity Day Observance Oct. 2 at Eisenhower Hall, with the theme of “Diversity: The Road to Readiness.” The observance coincided with the 13th annual Diversity Leadership Conference Oct. 3-4.
The Diversity Day Observance is an optional Department of Defense special commemoration that allows West Point’s international cadets and others in the community the chance to share cultural traditions with performances and food samplings.
Although West Point celebrates diversity during other annual observances like the Hispanic Heritage and the Asian-Pacific Heritage Festivals, the Diversity Day Observance is a mixture of a variety of cultures at one venue.
Class of 2013 Cadet Nathan Davis said he came from a small town in Maine where there were few opportunities to meet people with different backgrounds and cultures. That changed when he became a cadet.
“It’s given me a different perspective from the time I’ve been here on people with different backgrounds and cultures,” Davis said. “It’s important because we have people from all walks of life in the Army.”
The event included a mix of food samplings from the Asian-Pacific Forum, Sub-Saharan Africa Forum and France. Performances included tribal dances from the Native-American Heritage Forum and the African-American Arts Forum by Kani, a cadet dance troupe whose name in Swahili translates to strength and energy. The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation School Age Center children’s choir performed “God Bless America” in sign language to close the evening’s entertainment.
Other performances included a judo demonstration by the Child and Youth School Services Program and the Cadet Judo/Martial Arts Team and a performance by the West Point Jewish Chapel Choir. The smell of sage burning brought the curious to the Native American Heritage Forum display of clothes and objects inherent in the Native American cultures.
“When you understand a person’s culture, the better you can understand them,” Class of 2014 Cadet Sallena Samuel, who represented the Native American Forum, said. “The more you understand, the more you can work with people.”
Children, ages of 6-10, from the School Age Service Center performed "God Bless America" in sign language at the 4th annual Diversity Day Observance at Eisenhower Hall Oct. 2. The observance included performances by the African-American Arts Forum, Native American Tribal Dance, Cadet Combat Salsa Club along with food samplings from various cultures. The theme for this year's observance is "Diversity: The Road to Readiness."
French cadet exchange students enjoy samplings of food and performances at the fourth annual Diversity Day Observance at Eisenhower Hall Oct. 2. The students attend École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr in France, which is a three-year course of study focusing on military training.