Marist College’s week-long Diwali celebration concluded on November 13th with a wonderful closing reception attended by over 200 members of the Marist College community, along with their family and friends. Participants filled the room for a night of singing, dancing, Indian cuisine and a fashion show modeling traditional Indian apparel from various regions of the country.

"It was such a significant experience that brought a bit of India to campus for those who have traveled so far from their home ... even more so for those of us, like myself, who might never have the opportunity to visit," says Corri Nicoletti, Educational Technology Specialist Academic Technology & eLearning office at Marist College.

The closing reception was the perfect end to a five day exhibit to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. As Marist College boasts a large international population representing over 50 countries worldwide, this event was the perfect opportunity to share a significant cultural experience campus-wide. However, we decided to take it one step further. What if our families and friends could participate, no matter where they are? OAE served as the perfect platform for our students to share in their celebrations as well as to reconnect with those at home.

Diwali Closing Reception

As a result of using OAE, various family, friends, and other institutions were able to connect, regardless of their global location. Everyone was invited to post pictures of their celebrations wherever they were. Beginning October 14th, those involved in the event began posting images of the Rangoli workshop, followed by event preparations, the exhibit, and the final celebration. The OAE group and shared images for MyDiwali Celebration were visited numerous times throughout the month. Surprisingly, these visitors included global participants from as far as England, Australia, South Africa, and more!

Using the combination of social media, active global participants, and the collaborative and interactive nature of OAE, we extended the week-long Diwali event past the grounds of Marist College. We were able to reach friends and family elsewhere by spreading a diverse, culture-rich experience with those around us ... even if they were half way around the word!

It was clearly evident just how much this meant to the students, who worked countless hours, day in and day out, to make it a success. Many of them were amazed at how much it felt like home.