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Oxford and Beyond Global Connections

UniDiversity Festival 2022

The annual Latin American and Caribbean UniDiversity Festival is a highlight of National Hispanic-Latino American Heritage Month at Miami.

Oxford and Beyond Global Connections

UniDiversity Festival 2022

Students hold signs that read 'I am Miami' and 'Somos Miami'

This month, one of Oxford and Miami’s most popular events will once again bring the community together in the Uptown Parks for an evening of fun, dance, food, and friendship. The annual Latin American and Caribbean UniDiversity Festival is part of a full month of events celebrating the National Hispanic-Latino American Heritage Month, providing a portal for intercultural connections and civic engagement.

Festival planning committee chair Jacqueline Rioja Velarde says that this year's Festival will see the return of old favorites plus a few new treats. Silly Safaris will be back with their live animal show, and the Honey Hill Farm Petting Zoo will delight guests of all ages. The Oxford and Fairfield Lane Libraries plan to share books related to Latinx culture, as well as their popular crafts and activities. NAACP Oxford Chapter will bring engaging traditional Latin American games and other fun activities. And for the first time since 2019, the crowd favorite Qué Lindo es Panamá! dance troupe will return. 

New performing groups include Cincy Brazil Samba Dance and La Fórmula Music Productions Charanga Latin band, both guaranteed to feature energetic rhythms and colorful costumes, plus a chance to learn some new dance moves. Alpha Psi Lambda National Inc., a co-educational Latino-oriented fraternity, is planning a stroll, bringing students together in celebration. And UNIDOS, joined by other Latinx organizations, will lead the Peace Flags Parade this year.

Senior Efrain Pérez, co-president of UNIDOS along with Mari Hernandez, first got involved with this year's UniDiversity planning in late August. Last year, he emceed the festival with UNIDOS's past president Marianna Gay, and he describes it as one of his favorite days of the past year. "I believe that the festival is the best instance of unity I've ever experienced. To me, it is a core part of my Miami experience, and it means a lot to me that UNIDOS is heavily involved in any way it can be."

The Festival will welcome three special guests: William Snavely, Mayor, City of Oxford for the reading of the Proclamation of the Hispanic Heritage Month; Elizabeth Mullenix, Interim Provost, Miami University, who will welcome everyone to the festivities; and Lilleana Cavanaugh, Executive Director, Ohio Commission Hispanic Latino Affairs, who will lead the Address of this meaningful celebration.

Since its beginning in 2003, the festival has enjoyed a remarkable partnership between city and university. The vibrant environment and the way the town comes together in celebration energizes Kim Daggy, Executive Director of Enjoy Oxford. "UniDiversity is so colorful—decorations, costumes and traditions, upbeat rhythm and dance, and of course a taste of Latin American cuisines, live animal shows, and a petting zoo! The Festival is uplifting for all ages, and we are excited to partner with Miami to support this intercultural experience"

The Festival features many family activities, including crafts sponsored by the Lane Libraries
Two young women adjust a cactus game as a child looks on.
For the past 19 years, the Oxford Chapter of NAACP has organized traditional Latin American games for children
UNIDOS student org info table
The festival includes information booths featuring university and local groups
A man enjoys an empanada
Food trucks are always a big hit
Charanga band in performance
Charanga Latin Band in performance
Cincy Brazil Samba group pose
Cincy Brazil Samba

Rioja Velarde noted that attendees have also demonstrated great interest in participating in a variety of civic engagement initiatives such voter registration, solidarity campaigns, and International Peace Day activities. “Oxford Uptown Parks is transformed and becomes a space of unforgettable multicultural learning experiences for all. The diverse energy from partners, sponsors, volunteers, providers, community organizations— it's a livable testimony that “la unión hace la fuerza.

Pérez hopes that the student body will make a special effort to attend. "The 2022 festival, like every year before it, will be a beautiful celebration of unity and community, but I also know that there are some wonderful surprises in store for this year's festival that are must-sees for those who have or have not attended in the past," he said. "UniDiversity is a must for every Miami student and everyone else in the community, and I cannot wait to see it yet again this year."

All are welcome to join this community celebration, part of the Hispanic Latino American Heritage Month.