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Atlas Week: What You Need to Know to Celebrate Billikens and the World


Atlas Week 2018 Parade of Nations

This year's Atlas Week will begin Thursday, March 28, and conclude on Monday, April 8. Photo by Ellen Hutti

Saint Louis University will celebrate its international reach and community while considering the experiences, struggles and triumphs of those who migrate around the globe during this year's Atlas Week.

The week's kick-off ceremony, "Knowing Who I Am and Where I'm From," co-hosted in conjunction with SLU's Asian American Association (AAA), will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 31, at the Lipic Clock Tower and Center for Global Citizenship. The ceremony will feature games, performances and food from different regions across the globe.

Those attending can join in opportunities to explore cultures through trivia and cultural games, learn stories of fellow SLU students’ experiences of being immigrants and migrants, and celebrate the beauty of multiculturalism.

What’s New?

New Home

This year, Atlas Week has found a new home within the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement.

Time Changes
  • Atlas Week’s Parade of Nations and the Billiken World Festival have been moved to later in the afternoon on Friday, April 5, so that more students have the opportunity to engage in the celebrations.
  • The Parade of Nations will be from 2 to 3 p.m. The parade route will begin on the Science Quad and will head down the West Pine Mall towards the Center for Global Citizenship.
  • The Billiken World Festival will be from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Center for Global Citizenship.
One Atlas Week

In a change from past years, there will not be a second Atlas Week with a medical focus, but special attention is being paid to ensure all parts of the SLU community and campus can participate in the week’s discussions, celebrations and cultural engagement activities.

The Theme and Message

The Atlas theme actually derives from a lyric found within the song "Habitat" by Mos Def, an American rapper, singer, song-writer, actor, record producer and activist.

The Atlas Week planning committee wanted to choose a theme which would encapsulate the narratives and challenges when it comes to the topic of migrants and migration.

Student participating in the food festival
The week's activities will include discussions, lectures, festivals, parades, films and much more. Photo by Amelia Flood

Migration has become a global issue as many are leaving their homes due to a myriad reasons and situations that are outside of their control including war, governmental corruption, famine, climate change and other pressing issues. The Atlas Planning committee wanted Atlas Week to be used as a platform to share the narratives behind why people leave or "migrate.”

Often times, we do not hear about the challenges that migrants face while on their migration journey or even the stories of these migrants of who they were before migrating,” Luella Loseille, graduate assistant in the Cross Cultural Center (CCC), said. “Ultimately, through the theme of ‘This Place That We Come From: Moving Through Our Untold Experiences,’ participants of Atlas Week will be able to build empathy and a deeper understanding of migration issues that in future may be used to create transformative change for the better.

There are many Atlas Week events which focus on issues of immigration through an intersectional lens. Some events examine the intersection of race and politics, and how they relate to immigration status and access. A number of scheduled events highlight the stories of refugees and their adjustment to new life in a new culture. There are also events that connect systems of oppression and individual's contribution to maintaining it.

“The role of Atlas Week is to increase awareness and promote discussion on global issues of today,” Loseille explained. “However, these discussions shouldn't only occur during Atlas Week, but should be a continuous dialogue throughout one's time at Saint Louis University as we try to become socially conscious agents of change. Although the focus of Atlas Week is mostly on global affairs, big changes to global issues begin at the local level and Atlas Week tries to emphasize the acting locally to create global impact.”

Food festivalgoers

Key events include the Parade of Nations and Billiken World Festival. Photo by Amelia Flood

Full Atlas Week Details and Events Schedule