Big Picture NU showcases diversity of student groups

David Lee, Reporter

In an effort to raise awareness about diversity at Northwestern, 10 student groups presented their organization’s past accomplishments and goals moving forward at an event held Tuesday night by Northwestern Interfaith Advocates.

About 40 people attended the “Big Picture NU” showcase in Parkes Hall, held as part of Wildcat Interfaith Week.

Each group had a five-minute time slot to give a brief overview of the past year and provide a vision for the future.

Medill freshman Zahra Haider, who introduced each student group during the event, said she helped plan the program in an effort to increase awareness about the wide variety of student groups on campus.

“The inspiration behind the event was making interfaith more inclusive,” Haider said. “You can be outside of a faith group and still be part of interfaith.”

During the presentations, some groups provided advice on ways to overcome common struggles, such as fundraising. Board members from AIESEC encouraged other groups to reach out to alumni for donations, and a former president of Habitat for Humanity said she is starting a leadership program to help executives of other organizations overcome certain difficulties involved in executive roles.

“It was very informative and very beneficial for student group leaders in particular,” said McCormick junior Umer Zakaria, president of the Muslim-cultural Students Association. “There were resources being talked about that many people may not have even known about.”

Other presenters included Form & Function Marketing, Moneythink Northwestern, NU Threads, Bhakti Yoga Society and the Fiedler Hillel Center.

Weinberg sophomore Kevin Luong, a member of the Asian-Pacific American Association, which also gave a presentation at the event, said he appreciated the program’s low-key atmosphere.

“We can get students that are interested in so many different things together and just have a nice casual talk about what we’re all about,” he said.

Many of the attendees were members of at least one of the represented groups. Zakaria said he learned about many great causes and saw a lot of potential for collaboration among the groups. He added he encourages diversity even within his group, so he welcomes similar events in the future.

“Our members are all diverse individuals themselves,” he said. “We really wanted to broadcast that we’re so much more than just our major, labels, organizations and ethnicities.”

The event also allowed many lesser-known groups on campus to broadcast their goals and missions to a wide audience. Luong said he liked coming together as a diverse group of people with intersecting interests.

“There were a lot of groups that I’ve definitely heard of, but I didn’t really understand their missions or methods until today,” he said. “I’ll definitely be looking to reach out to them.”

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