Somebody shouted, “They’re here” as the hall outside the Pikes Peak Sunken Lounge filled with students and staff from South Carolina State University.
Shades of Promise, an effort to understand and learn about diversity, started last night with a “meet and greet” banquet bringing together 17 students from CSU’s President’s Leadership Program and 19 student leaders from South Carolina State University (SCSU.)
And while the diverse gathering in the hall outside the lounge may have at first seemed an unusual sight on campus, visiting SCSU senior mathematics education major Amann Holden disagrees.
“It’s not just black and white; it’s students as a whole,” Holden said. “It’s like meeting a celebrity. You think there something completely different, but when you sit down and meet them you find that they’re just like you and me.”
The gathering of the groups brings together two unique demographics. SCSU campus is 83 percent African American and 13 percent other ethnicities, while CSU is 90 percent white and 10 percent other ethnicities.
Shades of Promise organizer Jake Blumberg said that the principle motivation is for the two campuses to learn from their unique differences and to understand diversity.
“Both schools come from environments with no diversity, but this shows that we can work toward social justice and equality,” Blumberg said. “. The mirror image of the demographics is so cool.”
After last night’s banquet the group will spend today at CSU Challenge Ropes Course and will attend a lecture on multiculturalism. On Saturday the group will travel to Estes Park to continue team-building exercises and discussions about diversity. On Sunday the SCSU students will fly back to South Carolina.
However Shades of Promise will continue beyond this weekend. In October for the next installation CSU students involved will visit SCSU in Orangeburg, South Carolina.
The groups are also planning to extend across international borders sometime in 2009, planning a trip to Africa. The trip will allow students for a broader understanding of a multicultural world.
Blumberg said, “It’s a more global world, and this experience will lead into the ability to work with others in a more diverse world.”
CSU junior biomedical sciences major and Shades of Promise member Kaylie Monaghan expressed excitement for merger of the two groups.
“This is the first time that two schools this type of exchange on this big of a scale,” Monaghan said. “It’s just awesome to understand the different cultures with one goal in mind.”
Visiting SCSU senior elementary education major Sheila Wright echoed her sentiment.
“It’s about trying to understand and find a level ground between the cultures, said Wright. “I love the Shades of Promises because if you look at the different shades you’re looking for differences. But if you look at a shadow, it’s a shadow.”
A film crew is documenting the entire experience to be shared among other Universities.