Friday, February 6, 2015

Diversity Dialogues on tap at Cuyamaca College for spring 2015

The Filipino culture and traditions. Serving undocumented students. Diversity awareness as a leadership trait.  Understanding LGBT issues. Recognizing social justice.

These topics are on tap for spring 2015 at Cuyamaca College’s Diversity Dialogues, a series of workshops focusing on a variety of diversity awareness and social justice issues. 

The hour-long workshops have become well-established venues for discussions and exercises centered on always relevant, but often hot-button topics. This semester’s five workshops -- all to be held in the Student Center -- are free and open to the public.

The workshops kick off with “Learning about Filipino Culture & Traditions” from 1-2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10, in Room 104 in the student center.

Presented by San Diego Filipino leader Sam Besa, the workshop focuses on the estimated 180,000 residents who make up the largest Asian American community in the county. The presentation will provide general information and an overview of Filipino history and culture.

Besa, who has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of California, San Diego, and MBA from the University of San Diego, is a 40-year resident of San Diego, and is a member of the House of the Philippines, one of the many culturally-based cottages that make up the House of Pacific Relations in Balboa Park. He emigrated from his native country as a toddler, then went back for several years as a child.

“Working with Undocumented Students” set for 11 a.m.-noon Wednesday, Feb. 25, in Room 207 in the Student Center, centers on a survey conducted by the University of San Diego, which led to the creation of the campus’ office for Undocumented Student Services.

Other initiatives to support undocumented students will also be highlighted, as well as ideas on replicating these services to undocumented students in other institutions.

Presenting are Cynthia Davalos, special assistant to the vice chancellor of Student Affairs at UCSD, and Jessica Muñoz, Undocumented Student Services coordinator at UCSD. Davalos completed her docorate in Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego, and conducted extensive research in the field of diversity and leadership.

From 1-2 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, in Room 207, is “A Taste of Diversity,” which aims to go deeper than what is on the surface and examines why diversity awareness is an essential component of leadership. The workshop discussion will focus on ways to interact with individuals with diverse backgrounds, and will also shed light on biases and stereotypes.

Leading the workshop is Grace Bagunu, who teaches in the Leadership Studies Department at the University of San Diego, and is pursuing a doctoral degree at USD. Bagunu is also the director of the Communication and Leadership Programs through the Center of Student Involvement at UCSD.

Understanding the LGBT Alphabet Soup – Race, Gender and Sexuality through an LGBT Lens” is set for 2-3 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, in Room 207.

This fun, interactive workshop will promote awareness about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. By fostering leadership development and encouraging dialogue, traditional notions of diversity will be challenged, and issues relating to Cuyamaca College’s climate will be explored. The basic and complex perspectives of multiple communities will be explored through an LGBT lens.

Presenter Shaun Travers is the director of the LGBT Center and a diversity officer at UCSD.

Social Justice Institute” closes the Diversity Dialogues workshop series, and is set for 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Friday, April 17, in Room 207.  Grace Bagunu returns to Cuyamaca to offer an interactive training session to help students gain a greater awareness and understanding of social justice by tapping into their own experiences. Students will be encouraged to commit to an action that will benefit the community.

“Today’s leaders are being asked to lead in a diverse, global context, where disparity among certain individuals and groups makes it challenging to achieve world peace,” Bagunu said. “Social justice is not only a goal, but also is a process that leaders must understand in order to be able to engage and work towards a more equitable and just society.”

Lauren Vaknin, Cuyamaca College’s associate dean of Student Affairs, developed Diversity Dialogues in spring 2011, initially offering three workshops that drew a total of about 50 students. These days, about 250 people – mostly students -- attend the workshops each year

“Respecting the needs and challenges of our diverse campus population is a part of what we proudly call the Cuyamaca Way, and the Diversity Dialogues help promote our philosophy of inclusion and engagement,” said President Mark Zacovic. “This campus is a microcosm of our multicultural society – it is our responsibility as educators to introduced our students to different cultures, opinions and perspectives.”

Students who attend at least three of the fall and spring semester workshops earn a Diversity and Leadership certificate and will be recognized at a student leaders reception in May. Certificate earners transferring to San Diego State University earn some credit toward the SDSU Multicultural Competency Certificate offered through the university’s Cross Cultural Center.

Vaknin recruits the presenters – this semester mostly academicians from UCSD. She also solicits input from student government leaders and fellow members of Cuyamaca’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee, a group that meets monthly with the goal of fostering cultural competence, equity and respect for all employees and students.