Cuyamaca classes help students delve into diversity

By Karen Pearlman6:
RANCHO SAN DIEGO — A Sept. 4 discussion on Chaldean culture and traditions will kick off a semester-long workshop series called “The Diversity Dialogues” at Cuyamaca College that aims to encourage students to embrace diversity.

The interactive workshop, from 11 a .m. until noon, is the the first of six scheduled classes this fall. The dialogues are free and open to the public and will focus on a variety of diversity awareness and social justice topics.

The first class will focus on the origin, culture, practices, and traditions of Chaldeans in the world, and specifically in San Diego.

The college in Rancho San Diego enrolls many Chaldean students because of the large Iraqi refugee population in East County, many in El Cajon.

All workshops, with the exception of one on Sept. 9, are in Room I-207 in the student center on campus. The Sept. 9 class will be in Room I-104.

The hourlong workshops are designed to give students a deeper understanding and appreciation of other cultures, construct environments that foster cultural learning, and to apply principles of cultural competency to personal, professional or academic life.

To provide students an opportunity to further delve into diversity issues, the college this fall has developed the Cultural Competency Institute, a series of additional workshops created by Tanis Starck, director of the San Diego State University Cross-Cultural Center.

Cuyamaca students who attend at least three of the semester workshops earn a “Diversity and Leadership” certificate that will be accepted as credit at San Diego State University toward the school’s multicultural competence requirement.

Students who complete three of the five workshops will receive a cultural competency certificate and will receive recognition at a student leadership ceremony in May.

Workshops scheduled are as follow:

“Diversity at Work” (1:30-2:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9), a presentation by Victoria Hankins, a professional development consultant and training instructor. The workshop will introduce participants to the many dimensions of diversity that may impact the workplace, including age, race, gender, disability, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Students will also explore how personal culture shapes values, assumptions, behaviors, and expectations.

“Social Justice” (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26), an interactive workshop in which participants will learn about social justice-related concepts, as well as effective communication skills working in diverse groups. Grace Bagunu, a UC San Diego doctorate student who puts on seminars on communication and leadership skills at the university, will lead the discussion.

“Standing in Solidarity: Supporting the Interests of Students on Campus” (10-11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2) will explore why some students find a campus environment unwelcoming. Participants will discuss strategies to enhance student culture that may also include the formation of alliances. Wendy Craig, assistant dean of extended opportunity programs and services at Cuyamaca College, is the presenter. Craig recently completed her dissertation on how white student allies can support the interests of minority students on campus.

“Cultural Narratives” (10:30-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8) is a workshop in which participants will discover and reflect on their own cultural self-awareness and begin writing their personal cultural narrative. Participants will also explore the impact of diversity on a college campus. Shaila Mulholland is an assistant professor in the College of Education at San Diego State University who has conducted extensive research in the area of diversity.

“Making Spaces Safe: Introduction to Safe Zones” (12:30-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7) will be led by Conor McLaughlin, a doctoral student at USD’s School of Leadership who has extensive student affairs experience at colleges throughout the country. This workshop will focus on the importance of creating safe spaces on college campuses and will include discussion on the elements and structures necessary to create a safe zones training program.