The Last Word: Making Connections Through Diversity

The Last Word: Making Connections Through Diversity

By Cassandra Latimer

The Wilson College community had a unique opportunity to participate in an interactive public art project during ArtsFest, April 1 – 5, 2024. Known as the UNITY Project (UNITY), the installation examined how labels both help and hinder our ability to build unity in our communities. The goal was to raise consciousness about the labels we give ourselves and others and explore how those labels both support and limit how we connect with each other.

UNITY is a circular arrangement of 32 poles in an outdoor space. Each pole is labeled with an identifier. For example, “I’m a parent,” “I speak English as Making Connections Through Diversity a Second Language,” “I identify as LGBTQIA+.” With raspberry-colored yarn, community members were encouraged to tie to each pole with which they identify. A beautiful canopy of interconnectedness soon formed in front of Warfield Hall – visually demonstrating how we are all connected by something.

Eddie Campbell, a first-year student from Crownsville, Md., volunteered with the project. They were instrumental in painting the identifier poles, staffing the project, and prepping a large chalkboard that stood beside pole number 32 with the words “I am…” This pole encouraged participants to write their own unique identifier. Campbell agrees the project did a nice job of sharing how interconnected we all are. “(Many people) focus on just labels and not what is behind the labels.”

Dillon Beede, director of choral activities and chair of Music, shares Eddie’s thoughts on labels. “I think we often get wrapped up in a singular aspect of our identity or in our perceptual identity of others and this project was a great opportunity for our community to see that we all intersect in a lot of meaningful ways. It speaks to the transformational power of art.”

Too many times in our society, labels frame our beliefs about others. When we take the time to unpack those labels and assumptions, we can start to relate to one another without judgment, without preconceived notions. It is within this judgement-free space that we can learn to listen to and appreciate everyone for who they truly are.

And that’s the space that Wilson tries so hard to create for her family members – a welcoming environment in which each individual or group is respected, supported, and valued. We embrace differences and offer respect in our words and actions. “We all have different experiences and ways of thinking,” shared Campbell. It’s that individuality that makes the Wilson family so successful. Wilson is the place that embraces and encourages her students to find their uniqueness, their passion, to find their bold!

The UNITY Project certainly gives us much to think about … and celebrate. Learn more about the UNITY Project at #OneWilson

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