“World Anthropology Day is a day for anthropologists to celebrate and participate in their discipline with the public around them. Anthropologists are innovators and creative thinkers who contribute to every industry. Help us celebrate what anthropology is and what it can achieve by hosting an event in your community, on your campus or in your workplace.”
As members of the Anthropological Society of the Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC) we were very excited to be part of “World Anthropology Day” on February 18, 2016 and raise awareness of the importance of anthropology in everyday life.
As members of this Society, we knew other colleges and institutions were going to show their support as well. We were aware of previous year’s activities from other groups, and we were determined to think of an original idea that would have both a positive impact and increase interest about this important date.
We decided on a particular idea that seemed logical for anthropology and at the same time one that was fun, and full of potential. Even though we anticipated success, we couldn’t have imagined the result, or the many surprises we encountered both during and after the event.
Our idea was to provide students at Los Angeles Valley College with the opportunity to write on a single piece of cardboard the name of the country they felt represented them culturally. We provided the materials in a variety of colors and allowed students to write anything they wanted that would identify their culture or country. We didn’t want to limit the creativity of the students, and encouraged them to draw or paint images as well. After they had finished, they were instructed to tape the paper on a large wall we had pre-selected at the campus for everyone to see.
It was wonderful to discover how a simple group activity could teach us so much. We learned about cultural diversity at our college, about the perspective students have about their cultures; what’s important to them about their countries of origin, and much more.
The Diversity Wall taught us a great deal about students we shared our college with, and about anthropology in general.
- We learned that many people find the word anthropology to be intimidating, but when you explain that anthropology is simply the study of everything that is human, they realize that they know more about it than they previously thought. We also found that explaining the different divisions of anthropology (archeology, cultural, linguistic, and physical) makes the subject even more interesting to most students. Once they understand the word better, they become increasingly interested in the field and more fascinated in learning about it.
- We learned that it is critical to have basic information to be able to answer questions about anthropology. We needed to be sure we could define anthropology in simple terms, and explain its importance in our past, present, and future.
As we accomplished our objective on “World Anthropology Day”, we felt proud, and were able, not just to bring awareness about anthropology and its importance, but to increase the visibility of our Society. In the following weeks, attendance improved at our meetings and many people on campus began to recognize and to associate us with our Diversity Wall. Like our anthropology professor Eugene Scott beautifully and proudly stated:
“… (we) felt like true ambassadors in our endeavor to create connectedness on our campus and in our little part of the world”.
The day gave us the opportunity to engage students in conversations about important anthropological issues in society. For example some of the topics we spoke about concerned the environment, cultural conflicts, cultural diversity and acceptance, preservation of values, history of peoples, political decision making, and more.
You can create your own Diversity Wall with simple and inexpensive materials:
- One hundred pieces of cardboard in various colors.
- Several magic markers.
- A table.
- A large paper banner with the name of your activity.
(And don’t forget to bring lots of passion and enthusiasm.)
This event would not have been possible without the invaluable direction and advice of Eugene Scott and Kenneth Feldmeier; great Anthropology Professors at Los Angeles Valley College. Also, we acknowledge the amazing participation and dedication of our Society members.
The Anthropological Society of the Los Angeles Valley College invites you to create your own Diversity Wall. You never know what you may learn, and how you may change forever the life of others.
Alfonso DiLuca, Vice-president – Los Angeles Valley College Anthropological Society
Learn more about Anthropology Day, and how to participate here.