Saturday, February 6, 2016

A new series of Diversity Dialogues at Cuyamaca College

A new series of Diversity Dialogues, a program of free Cuyamaca College workshops aimed at fostering a greater understanding of diverse cultures and various social issues, launches Feb. 18 with a session on becoming mentors in promoting social justice and change. 

 “Cuyamaca College is a leader in promoting a culture of inclusion and engagement, and Diversity Dialogues underscores our commitment to fostering discussion, understanding and action in this area,” Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes said. 

Lauren Vaknin, Cuyamaca College’s associate dean of student affairs, developed the 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. All of the workshops are free and open to the public. 

The workshops kick off with Awaken our Inner Mentor, which is set from 11 a.m. to noon in Room I-207 of the Student Center. The session, led by Art Guaracha, focuses on how mentors can promote social justice, effective strategies of successful mentors and the steps each of us can take to develop the inner mentor within. Guaracha is a counselor and instructor at Cuyamaca College who previously served as an assistant director at the UC San Diego Graduate School of International Relations. 

Diversity and Cultural Competence takes place Feb. 23 from 1 to 2 p.m. in Room I-207 of the Student Center. This session, led by Cuyamaca College counselor Raad Jerjis, will focus on promoting intellectual awareness and understanding of the various aspects of diversity and the cultural influences related to conflict. An emphasis will be placed on the identifying behaviors that constitute prejudice or discrimination against various culturally diverse groups and how to appropriately respond. Jerjis is an associate professor and counselor at Cuyamaca College. 

Civilization of Coexistence: For a Better Community takes place on March 1 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. in Room I-207 of the Student Center. This workshop, presented by Roula Aoneh, addresses the importance of coexistence, and will focus on building a genuine multicultural community where everyone develops a framework of tolerance, peace and understanding. It also will look at ways educators and students can prevent interfaith and communal relations from deteriorating in educational settings. Aoneh is an Arabic instructor at UC San Diego and an ESL instructor at Cuyamaca College. 

Asian Pacific Islander Women in Pop Culture is the topic for the March 30 session, which is scheduled from 2 to 3 p.m. in the “F” Building, Room 702. Presented by Grace Bagunu, this session looks at the leadership lessons that can be learned from the growing number of Asian Pacific Islander women characters showing up in popular culture. These lessons will be used as examples intended to help aspiring women learn how to become leaders and make a difference. 

Safe Zones Training takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room I-207 of the Student Center. This session brings awareness of LGBTQIA issues and provides insights on improving the campus climate. Presenters include Cuyamaca College faculty members Nancy Jennings and Moriah Gonzalez-Meeks, along with Vaknin. Gonzalez-Meeks is a history instructor at Cuyamaca College and also teaches in the Women’s Studies Department at SDSU. Jennings is a professor of communication at Cuyamaca College. 

Communications Across Cultures will be theme on April 14 from 10 to 11 a.m. in Room I-209 of the Student Center. Presented by Heather Belk, who teaches communications courses in the Department of Communication and Theater at Point Loma Nazarene University and is also the director of Associated Students at UC San Diego, discussion will explore how our own background, experiences and culture shape how we communicate with others and how we can develop the skills to successfully communicate in diverse settings. 

The Social Justice Institute wraps up the spring series of Diversity Dialogues with Grace Bagunu. This interactive training session, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Room I-207 of the Student Center, will help participants gain a greater awareness and understanding of social justice from their own experiences, as well as commit to an action that will benefit the greater community.