By Jordan Beach
In a time when division is displayed daily across the media and issues continue to arise that further the chasm of our differences, the Unity Project stands out on campus – both visually and symbolically.
Constructed for the past several years as part of First Year Seminar (FYS) curriculum, The Unity Project serves as an interactive art project that teaches new students how their differences within the Reinhardt community weave a bigger picture, one that is colorful, vibrant and united.
“The First Year Seminar’s Unity Project gives our first-year students an opportunity to think about who they are as individuals, as well as see the visual representation of who they are as first-year students and as Reinhardt community members,” said Dr. Walter May, dean of students. “My hope is that through the Unity Project we can communicate how our diversity builds a strong and vibrant Reinhardt community.”
May views the project as a method of building a sense of “belonging and togetherness,” showing FYS students ways in which they are connected and that they are not alone.
“During these divisive times, we need to understand and learn that the world is a colorful, vibrant place. People are different in regard to race, ethnicity, values and backgrounds, but one common value shouldn’t be questionable: we have to respect that we are all valued members of our community no matter our difference. The Unity Project creates a visual image of this principle.”
Abby Infante ’24 is a biology major from Woodstock, Ga. Her FYS course has played a key role in her first couple weeks on campus, from learning about the different facets of the University to receiving tips from her professor about freshman year. She finds the Unity Project helps develop an understanding of diversity.
“I believe the Unity Project is a great way for students to understand and accept the diversity within the campus,” said Infante. “I think it will allow for some students to open their eyes and become more aware of Reinhardt’s intentions to be a unified program.”
The circle of poles represents various identifiers, and as students wrap their strands of yarn around each one that applies to who they are, the display of Reinhardt’s interconnected campus is woven together. Coordinator of FYS courses this year, Lydia Laucella, feels the art project represents the entire Reinhardt community.
“The Unity project allows all first-year students to create a beautiful yarn sculpture in collaboration that is not only representative of what they are learning in the classroom – building community, developing a sense of belonging, gaining a deeper understanding of diversity, inclusion and unity – but that is representative of the Reinhardt community as a whole,” said Laucella, assistant director of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Engaged Learning. “Through this project, students are given the opportunity to experience what fundamentally connects us as human beings: a shared compassion and understanding of others.”