Blue balloons and orange shirts dotted Old Campus on Saturday morning as New Haven residents and Yale students mingled.
This Saturday, Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed fraternity dedicated to community service, hosted its annual Communiversity Day intended to educate local residents about available community resources. Attracting well over a thousand students and New Haven residents, the free event was a combination of health bazaar, children’s carnival and talent show. This year, in an effort to reach out to families in the local area, the Office of International Students and Scholars at Yale decided to hold their second annual International Cultural Festival together with Yale Communiversity Day.
“We wanted [residents and students] to recognize the diverse population in New Haven,” said Warrena Wilkinson, administrative assistant at OISS.
A large number of groups participated in Communiversity Day such as Tutoring in Elementary Schools (TIES), who paid for and ran free bus service to Old Campus from local elementary schools, and the Book Bank, who donated over 500 free books. In addition, about thirty international programs and student organizations set up booths on Old Campus as part of the International Cultural Festival.
Dean of Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Peter Salovey gave the opening address and put on a grass skirt to assist Dorothy Finnigan ’07 in a juggling act that made many children laugh. Nicholas Miranda ’05, chair of Alpha Phi Omega and Communiversity Day coordinator, said their goal was to reach the parents through the kids.
Most parents treated the day as an opportunity for a family outing. Twelve year-old Jaymar Batts said he walked thirty minutes with his mother to get to Old Campus. The event also drew visitors from outside New Haven. Yan Wang came with her eight year-old son from Madison to participate after learning about the day through a friend.
Aside from inflatable slides and game tables, booths offered face-painting and science experiments such as making slime and ice-cream. The group Demonstrations in Science brought their $12,500 Starlab — an inflatable planetarium — to allow visitors a glimpse of the night sky inside Dwight Hall.
Children were not the only ones who found the experience rewarding. Vivian Hennah explained how one of her sons was slow in learning as she flipped through a pamphlet on reading. Another participant picked at brochures describing the harmful effects of cigarettes, saying how it would educate her teenage children about smoking.
Miranda said he felt the event was a success and he hopes to make it better next year.
“We began the preliminary stages of planning for [Communiversity Day] in the middle of last semester, but we really started working on it in December,” said Miranda, explaining the process of fund-raising, layout, purchasing equipment, designing the children’s carnival, bringing in community groups, set-up, and advertising. “We had high expectations and I think we did better than we thought.”
The event was made possible with grants from the President’s discretionary fund, Dean’s discretionary fund, the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee, Dwight Hall and the Office of New Haven Affairs.