Intercultural Festival

Intercultural Festival has been a Grand Valley tradition since 2005, but has roots dating back as far as the founding of Grand Valley State College in 1963. We host this event each year as a way to recognize the ways in which we are all diverse. Intercultural Festival recognizes that culture represents a spectrum of traits in people that are not only confined to ethnicity. This festival is a way to recognize how we all belong to a culture and that we should celebrate it. We want our guests to enjoy good food, music, dance, displays, and most of all, we want them to walk away having learned something new about a culture different from their own experiences.

Interculturalism & History

Most of us are familiar with words like multiculturalism and diversity, but the term interculturalism may be foreign to us. Dr. Greg Tanaka, in his book The Intercultural Campus, introduces the concept of interculturalism and explains it as a way to recognize the ways in which we are all diverse; whether we are a member of a majority or minority group. Interculturalism is also about dialogue; building connections with the people around you and talking about not only the ways in which you are different, but also the ways in which you are the same.

Questions to Think About:

  • Where did your family come from? How did your ancestors arrive to the US?
  • Are there ways in which you are privileged or experience power?
  • Are there ways in which you are oppressed?
  • If you could create a world without prejudice or oppression, what would that world look like?
  • What can you do starting today to create that world?

For more information about interculturalism, read The Intercultural Campus by Dr. Greg Tanaka, available at the GVSU Library


Intercultural Festival is a Grand Valley tradition with deep roots. What was once called Ethnic Festival has been restyled as Intercultural Festival to reflect the myriad of cultures represented in the Grand Valley community and the ways in which we are all diverse. By expanding beyond ethnicity, we can celebrate additional facets of diversity and multiculturalism, such as religion, ability, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, and more.

The move towards Intercultural Festival also reflects Grand Valley's commitment to Dr. Greg Tanaka's concept of interculturalism. Tanaka argues in The Intercultural Campus that many multicultural approaches can leave white students feeling alienated. The term interculturalism reflects an approach that recognizes everyone's culture and promotes a dialogue not just about difference, but across our differences.

Intercultural Festival is based in this idea and seeks to celebrate the many diverse cultures present at Grand Valley while opening a dialogue on campus about power, privilege, and oppression. Witness the people, displays, fashion, and artwork of various cultures! Experience the rhythms, language, music, and dance of various cultures through multiple performances and/or interactive activities! Encounter the aromas of cultural dishes by visiting food vendors throughout the event! Explore the variety of different foods and tastes that represent a global society! Interact with members of the GVSU community to open communication regarding culture!

For more information, please email, or call Student Life at (616) 331-2345.

GVSU Diversity Resources

There are a number of resources available to GVSU students, staff, and faculty falling under the umbrella of diversity.


The following offices are prepared to give guidance and support to any individual regarding intercultural issues:

Inclusion and Equity Division 331-3296

Allies & Advocates 331-3898

Barbara H. Padnos International Center 331-3898

Dean of Students Office 331-3585

Department of Public Safety 331-3255 (Allendale Campus) 331-6677 (Pew Campus)

Housing and Residence Life  331-2120

Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center  331-2530

The Graduate School 331-7105

Office of Multicultural Affairs 331-2177

Office of Student Life 331-2345

University Counseling Center 331-3266 (Allendale Campus) 331-3266 (Pew Campus) 331-4848 (Meijer Campus)

Gayle R. Davis Center for Women & Gender Equity 331-2748

Intercultural Festival is coordinated by the Campus Activities Board in the Office of Student Life, which is a department of the Division of Student Services of Grand Valley State University.