The Sixteenth Annual Ethnic Student Center Conference is not only three days of socializing, fun workshops, culture sharing, and food: it is a weekend of memories and new friendships that last a lifetime. This year’s conference is “Guaranteed to lift your voice, develop your student leadership, and express your culture,” according to the Ethnic Student Center.
Beginning in 1991, the ESC Conference is a tradition that has positively changed the lives of many students.
Zerina Bermudez, a student and conference organizer, recalls the ESC Conference she attended in 2004.
“I remember having a good time,” said Bermudez. “The main thing was that I met a lot of people and we bonded over that weekend. That was really important to me because I was new and didn’t really know anyone. It was really important having those memories and being able to connect to people that way. It was really nice to have that. I’d always encouraged new students and freshmen, coming into the Ethnic Student Center, to always go to that.”
“I remember it was a lot of fun,” said student Anneka Ramirez, who attended her first ESC Conference last year. “I remember coming away from it knowing that I’d made a lot of really good connections, that I’d made a lot of new friends, I felt a lot more connected to the people in the ESC.”
AS Vice President of Activities, Nate Panelo also recalls how attending past ESC Conferences has influenced him.
“You get this diversity high,” said Panelo. “Where students are just motivated to make change and that’s what happened for the first two years. In my experience, I wanted to make this change. For me personally, that was my starting point.”
This year, the Ethnic Student Center Conference is at Fort Worden in Port Townsend, on Friday, October 20 through 22. The weekend will be filled with a surprise keynote speaker, good food, workshops, and an evening of cultural sharing.
The workshops will be offered throughout the day on Saturday,” said Bermudez. “Just a few topics to choose from include media representations of women of color and gender performance, how to be an effective ally and the role white people have in ending racism, and cultural expression through spoken word and song.”
Many of the conference’s workshops should appeal to the interests of new students. Bermudez reiterates her hope that new students, in particular, will attend. “We are giving out free registration for those who are living on campus,” said Bermudez. “It’s in the beginning of the year because not everyone is connected with each other yet, and everyone is willing to meet new people. Everyone is really welcoming.”
Michael Vendiola, Ethnic Student Center Coordinator, said students on campus should talk to their Resident Advisors to sign up.
“This is one opportunity of a lifetime, I’d say, to go to this conference,” said Panelo. “Out of the whole entire year, this is the conference you don’t want to miss.”
The conference is open to all Western students, staff, and faculty. Meals (including vegetarian options) and childcare are provided. Registration is $30, and the deadline is Thursday, October 12. Registration packets are available in the Ethnic Student Center in Viking Union 420.