At various times in the past, all 50 states, and sometimes 30 different countries, have been represented at Union, said Matthew Marshall, staff advisor for Mosaic, Union’s racial and ethnic minority resource and support group. But it is difficult to estimate the number of different cultures currently within Union, he said—there are different cultures within each country.
“[God] allows us to celebrate in the diversity he created,” Marshall said.
On Friday, Union’s international, third culture and minority students and missionary kids will have a chance to “share culture with each other” at the Cookout Connect, held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the Bowld Student Commons patio, said Marshall, who also directs Service and Diversity Initiatives and the Center for Racial Reconciliation.
There will be hamburgers, hot dogs and games, including a football toss competition and a two v. two basketball tournament. Marshall encourages students to bring food representing their own cultures.
Men’s Soccer Coach Clovis Simas will bring his team, one of Union’s most diverse groups. They will encourage students to attend the men’s soccer game that night at 7, Marshall said.
Although Mosaic and its Latin American Student Opportunities (LASO) branch have hosted cookouts the last three or four years, this year they are partnering with the International Student Office. Cookout Connect is an opportunity for students coming from different backgrounds and possibly going through culture shock to meet others with similar backgrounds and experiences.
“Whenever you find yourself with someone more similar to you, you feel more comfortable,” said Pam Whitnell, international student advisor. “It’s hard for someone to go in a new environment…and sit down with people they don’t know.”
Marshall hopes members of Mosaic have learned about collaboration, respect for people’s differences and “what it means to celebrate biblical diversity.” Celebrating biblical diversity is illustrated in Revelations 7:9, “where you see standing before the throne different tribes,” he said.
“The club is for everyone,” said Mosaic secretary Anna Alicia Sails, a member since her freshman year. Mosaic provides resources, like spiritual and academic development, for minorities in particular. But anyone can join, she said.
Now a senior, Sails says one of her favorite things she has learned has been “the importance of encouraging one another.” She didn’t think she could take on a leadership position, but other members saw something in her she didn’t and encouraged her to run for office. Mosaic always tries to “raise that bar of excellence,” she said.