The Cultural and Community Centers (CCC) at Virginia Tech welcome new and returning Hokies with their annual Community Kick-Off event Aug. 29 at 4 p.m. in the Squires Student Center's Commonwealth Ballroom.

This year's kick-off will feature welcome receptions for students to meet, connect, and learn about different student communities and important resources. It will also have activities, music, a photo booth, and food. Welcome receptions in the centers throughout Squires will begin at 6 p.m.

The centers have an exciting year ahead, with plans to develop new events and programs “focused on social justice, education, awareness, advocacy, and advising,” said Veronica Montes, director of El Centro, the Hispanic and Latinx Cultural Center. “We want to continue to engage students in a meaningful way that honors their identities."

The CCC mission is to foster a successful environment for underrepresented students and to develop the cultural competence of every Virginia Tech student. The centers are the American Indian and Indigenous Community Center, the Asian Cultural Engagement Center, the Black Cultural Center, El Centro, the Intercultural Engagement Center, and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center.

“This year's event, just like in prior years, will work to start building a community that doesn't focus exclusively on the thriving of one specific community but on the uplifting of different communities through helping each other and collaborating,” said Sebastian Andrade, a junior majoring in international studies and philosophy, politics, and economics in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

The centers aim to create meaningful connections among current Tech students, faculty and staff, and alumni through resources, advocacy, and engagement. While some centers are relatively new to the Virginia Tech campus, others, like the Black Cultural Center, have a rich history of serving students and members of the community. Collectively, the centers have worked to bring more inclusion and accessibility to all students on campus.

With the centers as a hub for both community and inclusion, they serve as a home away from home for many students, promoting an environment of safety so that students can be their authentic selves. They offer opportunities to learn about communities for those who wish to engage with other cultures and customs, such as celebrating history and heritage months. The centers also work to engage the community in local and national contemporary social issues, with the goal of advocating and discussing pertinent issues in the world.

“I truly believe that students can gain a better understanding of the resources that are offered to all the VT community,” Andrade said. “As part of a social minority group or an underrepresented community, I have found community, friendships, and resources at the CCC.”

The ultimate goal, within the centers and Virginia Tech as a whole, is to create a climate that not only tolerates students, but actively welcomes them.

Written by Madison Sweezy