Discussions on topics ranging from social justice to the unique cultural challenges facing Muslim immigrants in the region highlight Cuyamaca College’s fall menu of Diversity Dialogues, which launches Sept. 14.
Diversity Dialogues were developed by Lauren Vaknin, associate dean of student affairs at Cuyamaca College, in spring 2011. From initially offering three workshops that drew about 50 students, these days, up to 300 people – mostly students -- attend the workshops each year.
“Diversity Dialogues has a tradition of fostering greater understanding by sparking open and honest discussions, and we look forward to another year of healthy and respectful conversations that underscore our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” Vaknin said.
All sessions are free and open to the public and take place in Room I-207 of the Student Center.
The series begins Sept. 14 with “Developing a Positive Multicultural Orientation towards Diversity: Self-Reflection about our Diverse Identities and Cultural Orientation” from 2 to 3 p.m. Presented by licensed marriage and family therapist Mayumi Y. Douglass, who is a lecturer at San Diego State University and a clinical supervisor at the Cuyamaca College Health and Wellness Center, this workshop is aimed at recognizing biases, increasing awareness about cultural prejudices and encouraging engagement with others who are culturally diverse.
That will be followed Sept. 18 with “Diversity & Social Justice” from 12 to 1 p.m. Presented by Grace Bagunu, who is the Student Affairs/SOLES Collaborative coordinator at the University of San Diego, this highly interactive session will focus on social justice-related concepts and effective communication skills when working in diverse groups.
“Understanding Your Cultural Identity” takes place Oct. 25 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Presented by Tanis Starck, assistant dean for special projects and director of the Cultural Proficiency Institute for Educators at San Diego State University, this workshop will investigate how we are likely to see people of differing cultures and how we could transform our cultural differences into healthy, authentic relations with others.
“Breaking Barriers to Build Bridges: A Mental Health Initiative,” is set for Oct. 30 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Presented by Cuyamaca College and Southwestern College counselor Ahmed (Rasheed) Aden, this workshop will delve into the stress felt by immigrant communities – particularly Muslim immigrants in the United States – and how that can affect a person’s mental health.
Diversity Dialogues ends its fall semester run with “Developing Cultural Humility” on Nov. 16 from 2 to 3 p.m. Douglass returns for an important discussion on becoming more sensitive to the importance of diversity and respect for cultural differences.
Diversity Dialogues is but one of Cuyamaca College’s ongoing efforts at celebrating all cultures. The campus hosts an annual powwow to promote Native American heritage, Latino Heritage Month and Black History Month celebrations and a Veterans Week Barbecue honoring those who have served in the armed forces.