The smell of jerk chicken and fresh-cooked empanadas swirled in the air at Uptown Park as Miriam Triana Serrano delivered her final remark to the crowd.

“Uno para todos, y todos para uno.”

The phrase, which translates to “one for all, and all for one,” was a summary of the festival’s goal of unity.

The diverse crowd of Oxford community members, children with painted faces and Miami students lounging in the grass unleashed their applause as Serrano paused before introducing the next speaker.

Serrano volunteered to be this year’s emcee for Miami’s annual UniDiveristy festival. The festival celebrates Latin American, Hispanic and Caribbean cultures at Miami, as well as the idea of a global community.

“The festival is the kick-off for Hispanic heritage month at Miami,” Serrano said. “I was born in Mexico and grew up in a Spanish-speaking home celebrating this culture my whole life. It’s really nice to have a celebration of my culture on this primarily white campus.”

For the first time in the festival’s history, Miami Hispanic, Latin American and Caribbean students had the honor of giving the festival’s second welcome, after Cincinnati’s President of the Hispanic Chamber of commerce, Alfonso Cornejo.

The melody of steel drums played by the Talawanda High School Steel Band kicked off the afternoon’s events after brief remarks from Cornejo and Oxford Mayor Dr. Kate Rousmaniere. The band played for a half hour, showcasing traditional music of the Caribbean.

This was Miami’s 15th UniDiversity festival to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month. Ms. Jacqueline Rioja Velarde, the Associate Director of Miami’s Center for American and World Cultures, said this festival was the largest to date.

“The beauty of the festival is about creating a synergy between not only Miami University and the Oxford community, but the larger community,” said Velarde. “We go beyond Butler County. The festival became a community, a space for those who want to celebrate cultures.”

The purpose of the Unidiversity festival is not only about the entertainment of celebrating Latin American, Hispanic and Caribbean heritage. The festival’s goal is to create a space of intercultural connection and, at the same time, civic engagement.

Historically, the festival has hosted student, Oxford community and Butler County organizations who promote cultural interconnectedness and diversity. This year more than 20 organizations from Oxford and the surrounding area partook in UniDiversity’s information fair.

The information fair is the core of the festival, according to Velarde. Community organizations have the opportunity to share their work and how it relates to a diverse community.

As the festival continued, more live shows and events were put on including the Cincinnati Baila!, Hispanic ballet and a traditional Latin American fashion show. Organizations, merchants, and traditional Latin food vendors in the Oxford community also had events set up at their information booths.

At 6:30, an hour before the closing ceremony, the Miami Latin American, Hispanic and Caribbean students gave the UniDiversity 15th anniversary celebration address. The address included Serrano’s speech on the importance of community unity. The International Peace Day flag parade began immediately preceding the students’ remarks. However, this year featured a major addition.

This is the first year the International Peace Day parade has included Not in Our Town, a group with the goal of keeping violence and prejudice out of the Oxford community.

“This is our way to show support for the community and our Latino students,” said Serrano.

The festival concluded with closing remarks from Velarde. As of now, there are no future plans to change UniDiversity but to continue to let it grow and bring the Oxford community closer together.

schwarn2@miamioh.edu

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