ME Student DEI Committee launches Multicultural Events Series Aaron Berry

Since April 2022, the ME DEI Student Committee has had resounding success with their Multicultural Events Series, each of which has celebrated one cultural community that contributes to the diversity of the U-M Mechanical Engineering Department. Each celebration included a short informative talk on the culture being celebrated, traditional food ordered from the Ann Arbor area, and group activities.

The first event celebrated the Asian community. Around 30 attendees enjoyed presentations on “Asian Food Culture: A Cuisine Born Out of Diversity,” a lecture by ME Research Professor Miki Banu, and “What makes a difference in Thai Cuisine” by Michelle Hornbacker, ISD HR Generalist.

“These multicultural events exploring worldwide cuisines are a vehicle for sharing cultures of people from different backgrounds. They are a social cohesion of molecules and people toward a better acceptance of the values around us. They help us to understand the richness of the world if we live in friendship and peace,” said Miki Banu, OVPR Collegiate Research Professor.

The second event celebrated the Greek community. More than 50 attendees enjoyed a presentation on Greek culture, architecture, history, and everyday life from PhD student Panagiota Kitsopoulos (a native of the city of Heraklion, on the island of Crete), food from Kouzina Greek Street Food and Hellenic Bakery & Market, and made personal clay pots and Karagiozis figures (shadow theater puppets).

"The Multicultural Event Series was a wonderful experience to plan and watch come to life with all the excitement of our attendees,” said Panagiota Kitsopoulos. “It was also a great gateway to introduce people to my own culture (Greek) and show them that Greece can be much more than ancient history, temple ruins, and mythology. I hope we can continue to host similar events in the future!"

The third, most recent event celebrated the Indian community. More than 50 attendees enjoyed a presentation on Indian history, culture, and languages from PhD student Hrishikesh Danawe, food from Namaste Flavours, henna tattoos, and took home goodie bags of traditional spices for a provided Pav Bhaji recipe.

“The multicultural series initiative by the ME-DEI committee is a great event to bring the community close and celebrate one of our own amongst us, especially after a long string of work from home months,” said DEI Student Committee member Vansh Sharma.

These events have been bringing our community together and teaching us to celebrate our differences. "I enjoyed planning and participating in the ME Multicultural Event Series. I learned about different cultures, their food and traditions. I met extraordinary people passionate about their culture and had the opportunity to exchange cultural values and beliefs. I am hopeful for the future of the Mechanical Engineering Department and their commitment to a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive climate,” said DEI Student Committee member Alondra Ortiz Ortiz.

The ME DEI Student Committee is gearing up to host more multicultural events throughout the school year. Their sights are currently set on National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15th to October 15.