Rich Salas was surprised to find that the Latino music he played on his guitar for groups of students was the youngsters’ first experience with his culture.
“We have to revisit and infuse into literature, history, math and sciences those contributions that are outside of our own culture box,” said the El Centro Student Services assistant director. “It prepares us to be able to understand people and contributions that we have ignored and minimized.”
With the same hope of exposing students to different cultures, the annual diversity conference begins today.
The event, “Diversity in the 21st Century: Preparing for the Workforce,” includes nearly 30 sessions that continue through Thursday.
Ann Malen, director of the Career Center, said employers are now seeking more diversity in their companies, which is why it is all the more important to embrace it.
“Be open to different people and don’t assume that people you are working with have the same views of the world that you do,” Malen said.
The conference will cover many topics, from issues of immigration to how to build a more diverse campus and workplace to presentations about different groups and cultures.
“Student Media has been proud to take part in the university’s annual diversity conference because we strongly believe in a variety of voices and perspectives and want to do all we can to encourage people to enter the discussion and learn,” said Holly Wolcott, newsroom adviser for the Collegian.
Wolcott will help lead a discussion about war, religion and cultural sensitivity in the media.
The conference and the topics to be discussed are just one way for students to expose themselves to different people and ideas, organizers said.
“It’s all a growth process,” Malen said. “Learn to be comfortable working with people that are different from you.”
Staff writer Stephanie Zisch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.