Multicultural Diversity Center ‘building community’ with Diversity Week

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Most wouldn’t expect a 48-year-old African-American man from Harlem, New York, and a female Indian exchange student to share interests, but one aspect of their lives created an unexpected bond: the Multicultural Diversity Center.

Adam Ross, Multicultural Diversity Center coordinator, said the two Dixie State University students met at the MCDC. After finding common ground, they bonded through both conversations and movies — Indian ones with subtitles — that detailed their contrasting cultures. 

“They were just [starting to relate to each other] with these movies,” Ross said. “It’s crazy that if you actually get to know a person how much you can learn [about diversity] spending time with them.” 

And with Diversity Week, Ross said more of these surprising yet strong bonds should exist on campus.

The event ensued with the Diversity Week Kick Off on Monday and runs until Friday’s Candy Lei Workshop. DSU’s growing minority and international population make Diversity Week an indication of future progress on campus, Ross said.    

Multicultural Diversity Center adviser, Lahela Manning, said Diversity Week contributes to the MCDC’s ultimate goals by not just allowing participants to celebrate different cultures, but also providing them with opportunities to create trust at DSU.   

“Our overall goal is to build understanding; it’s not just about teaching people about culture,” Manning said. “I believe it’s about having all of our students gain confidence in each other and building a community.”

Manning said the Diversity Forum held at noon today in the Gardner Center Cottam Room could spark dialogue about community building. Christina Durham, DSU board of trustees chair, will speak at the forum, and her experiences as a minority in St. George achieving impressive goals should motivate even those battling the most difficult hurdles, Manning said.

“Here you have someone who is a minority here in St. George … and she’s found a way to succeed regardless,” Manning said. “That’s going to be [a big event] because you have somebody who is prominent in the Dixie community coming to the students and saying, ‘You can thrive here; it’s possible.’” 

Diversity Week’s Movie Night, tonight at 7 p.m. in the Gardner Center, and International Night, Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Gardner Center, also build upon the MCDC’s goal to get everyone involved with diversity, Ross said. 

At Movie Night, students can expect a screening of “Guess Who,” the 2005 film staring Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac. Ross said the film’s spin on race relations and interracial dating in particular proves thought provoking for a college audience. International Night’s performances — a fashion show included — help round out the week’s events. Ross said if Diversity Week serves its purpose, the push for greater understanding and collaboration among those with different backgrounds shouldn’t end there — and hopefully expand from the confines of campus.  

“I would like get to the point where it’s not just campus but where we start to really reach and get the community involved,” Ross said. 

For more information on the MCDC, go to dixie.edu/diversity.