In 2009, the Black Student Union, Asian-American collision, and Indian-Student alliance came together to represent underrepresented minorities and created the event that helped embrace diversity at the University of Iowa.
The Walk it Out: Multicultural Fashion Show represents over 20 multicultural student organizations at UI including the African Student Association, Arabic Student Association, participants in Greek life, the Korean Student Alliance, OASIS and many others.
Stephanie Chin, the treasurer of Walk it Out says the primary mission of the organization is to educate UI faculty, students, and staff, as well as the greater Iowa City community about the variety of cultures that are flourishing in the local community.
The annual fashion show allows the Walk it Out organization to promote cultural awareness through the various forms of fashion, music, and dance that distinguish the seven showcased minority groups [East Asia, South Asia, Middle East, Africa, Latin, Hip Hop, and LGBTQA].
The increasingly popular event is approaching its fifth year and the executive board is hoping to bring together an even larger and more diverse audience than in the past.
“My freshman year, four years ago, the event had about 500 people attending,” says Qianying Li, Co-President of Walk it Out. “But, my sophomore year there was more than 1000 attending.”
Li says the organization began to see growth when they paired with the UI HIV/AIDS Clinic within the UI Hospitals and Clinics to promote awareness of HIV/AIDS in the Iowa City area. All proceeds from the show’s ticket sales will be donated to the clinic for HIV/AIDS patients that are receiving treatment there. She says she believes that pairing with the clinic led to receiving a lot of student’s attention.
“It’s definitely bringing a lot of people together,” Li says.
This is Chin’s third year involved in Walk it Out, and she says the experience is what keeps her coming back year after year.
“This organization has been one of things that most profoundly affected my UI experience. I’ve met so many wonderful people from all different walks of life, all of whom have a story to tell and a unique reason for walking in the show.”
Chin says in her experience, unless you are apart of the cultural organization or identify with one of the cultural groups represented in the show, it’s very easy to miss how these cultures are alive and flourishing at UI.
“The show is necessary because it brings these identities to the forefront and is a way of saying that we are here,” Chin says. “We want you to see this major part of what shapes us as individuals and members of society.”
This year’s Multicultural Fashion Show will be taking place on April 19, starting at 8pm in the IMU Main Ballroom. Tickets for the show are on sale now at the IMU Hub for $3.00 until the night of the show, when they will cost $5.00. Free cultural appetizers will be served and gift bags will be given to members of the audience prior to the main event.
To find out more about the Multicultural Fashion Show and the Walk it Out organization, visit their website.
Photos taken by Mark Zhu.