By Shelby Gardner —

The University of Louisville has been contributing to Louisville’s inclusivity for years now and what better time to recognize it than around Worldfest.

Almost every week you can find events on campus centered around diversity. Three events this week include the LGBT Health Certificate Kick-off: Variations in Sex Development, Intersex Conditions: Shifting Paradigms and Borders & Movement: U.S. Foreign Policy, Refugees & Immigrants.

U of L has also been recognized for its diversity on a national level. Last September U of L was in a three-way tie for first place regarding how we treat African-American students.

There are several Recognized Student Organizations and support centers on campus. Some of the RSOs are the African Student Union, Chinese Student and Scholar Association and the Indian Student Association. A few of the support centers are the Trio SSS, the Cultural Center and the Disability Resource Center.

Celebration of other cultures can absolutely be a fun time, but it’s also necessary. When creating an inclusive environment for everyone living together, sharing culture and embracing differences is essential to avoid attempts at assimilation or conflict.

According to an email sent to the community Aug. 19 about the freshman class, 17 percent identify as African-American or mixed, and six percent identify as Hispanic/Latino.

Events like Worldfest are what makes Louisville seemingly lead the rest of the midwest in embracing diversity and culture.

Worldfest is one of the region’s largest international festivals with four days of events that include a parade, naturalization ceremony, live entertainment, international vendors and cuisine. Not to mention admission is free, and food and gifts were available for purchase. There were over 30 food vendors and 70 local and regional performers.

“At events like WorldFest, Louisvillians and neighbors from the surrounding counties can travel the world; greet their diverse neighbors without leaving the city limits,” says Insider Louisville.

A few things that Insider Louisville highlighted for this year are the Latin night on Saturday, Chinese culture booths sponsored by WKU, and Irish dancing among many other kinds of dancing that will be performed. 

Something else that was highlighted was a perspective from the major (What?). “Today, immigration is critical to sustaining the city’s growth and economic prosperity,” said Mayor Greg Fischer in a recent op-ed in the Courier Journal.  “From 2009 to 2014, the city’s foreign-born population grew 42 percent, and these more than 60,000 new Louisvillians have brought $1.3 billion in spending power, opening new businesses across the city, better connecting us to global trading partners and contributing to our rich culture and quality of life.”

It’s partly a business deal, but only in a networking sense. It’s more so an opportunity for people from cultures all around the world that now live in Louisville to preserve traditions while showcasing and sharing their culture with everyone else. 

And from what it seems, Louisville is becoming increasingly diverse.

“With over 100 languages spoken in the Louisville public schools and 35 percent of the city’s population growth over the past 17 years coming from international residents from over 150 different countries throughout the world, Louisville is more culturally diverse than ever before.” the city of Louisville’s official website states.

U of L is such a unique, diverse community within an even more diverse city; Louisville is a safe-haven in the Midwest. 

This isn’t to say that things are perfect, because they are certainly not. But Louisville really is a good blend of southern charm and hospitality with progressive ideals and policies.

Photos by Joseph Garcia // Louisville Cardinal