UniDiversity festival in Oxford highlights Latinx community

Oxford’s Uptown Park on Friday will host the 19th annual UniDiversity festival to round off National Hispanic Heritage Month.

The UniDiversity festival focuses on combining elements of unity and diversity in celebrating Latino and Caribbean cultures and features shows of cultural music and dance, food vendors, a flag parade, and an information fair of local organizations.

Jacqueline Rioja Velarde, the chair of the planning committee for the program, said the UniDiversity festival not only allows space for a diverse and inclusive community, but it has allowed the Latino community in the area to expand out and collaborate with local groups and communities.

“Our passion is always trying to create partnerships and collaboration because there are a lot of opportunities for intercultural engagement between people that are apart from each other,” Rioja Velarde said. “We’re more able to create an inclusive society and inclusive communities.”

This year’s festival sees UniDiversity partner with many Miami University departments such as Unidos, one of Miami University’s Latinx student organizations, which aims to encourage the unity of diversity on campus.

In the Oxford community, the UniDiversity festival also helps to shine a light on local communities and organizations such as the Ohio Latin Fairs Commission, the Hispanic Chamber Cincinnati USA, and the League of United Latin American Citizens, which all aim to promote and improve the development of Hispanic and Latino communities in the area.

“Everybody knows that without collaboration, human diversity cannot be as successful as it can be.” Rioja Velarde said.

To further highlight these collaborations, UniDiversity’s information fair section of the festival helped to give a platform for organizations in the area.

D. Ellis Rates, Miami University’s Associate Director of Intercultural Initiatives, said his goal is not only reeling in a large number of organizations to the fair, but a diverse array as well.

“My ultimate goal was to get 15 or more organizations to be at the fair, the next part is making sure we have a wide variety of people represented,” Rates said. “We reached out to people who have more overarching lanes or overarching information to give out to folks.”

In doing so, Rates said he was able to secure representation from both on campus, and from nearby areas such as Cincinnati, Fairfield, and Middletown.

In helping to create UniDiversity’s information fair, Rates said he was proud to be able to help others expose themselves to different cultural experiences and aspects.

“It feels amazing, especially because part of my professional philosophy is that the more you expose yourself to difference, to otherness, the richer your life will be,” Rates said. “In a perfect world, people are really taking in the information on these tables, they really are getting a chance to have a conversation with the people at the table and hopefully that conversation will lead to deeper understanding.”


What: UniDiversity Festival

When: 5:30 to 9 p.m. Friday

Where: Oxford’s Uptown Park, High and Main streets

More: Schedule of events online at miamioh.edu/global-initiatives/cawc/annual-programs/unidiversity-festival/index.html.

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