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Summit on Diversity

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Creating Inclusion: One Story at a Time

UMD Diversity Summit Keynote speaker, Roxana Saberi, and noon speaker, Michael Reyes.
Keynote speaker, Roxana Saberi, and noon speaker, Michael Reyes

UMD's Summit on Equity, Diversity, and Multiculturalism and Seventh Annual Student Leadership Conference will be held from 8 am–5 pm on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 in the Kirby Student Center Ballroom. This year's theme is "Creating Inclusion: One Story at a Time."

The Summit features 60-minute and 90-minute workshops on equity, diversity, and social justice topics. Most of the workshops are targeted toward a student audience. UMD students may attend the Summit free of charge. Visit the UMD Diversity Commission website for Summit registration and schedule information.

Two speakers will present.

Michael Reyes, a poet, playwright, speaker, and educator, will speak at noon in UMD's Kirby Ballroom. He is most notably known for his ability to combine history, current events, and performance into a fusion of education and entertainment.

Roxana Saberi will give the keynote address at 4 pm in UMD's Kirby Ballroom. In January 2009, while working as a journalist, Saberi was arrested by the Iranian government on charges of espionage and sentenced to eight years imprisonment. However, in May of that same year, an Iranian court overturned her sentence and she was freed. She wrote Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran and has since spoken around the world about her experiences and the issue of human rights. She has received numerous honors including the Medill Medal of Courage, the NCAA Award of Valor, and the Champion of Change Award. Saberi was raised in Fargo, North Dakota. She holds two master’s degrees, one in journalism from Northwestern University and another in international relations from the University of Cambridge. She is currently working on her second book about Iran.

Working on a new house in New Orleans.
This group of UMD students helped build a new house in New Orleans in 2012.
UMD students and others on a spring break services trip.
UMD students, and students from other universities, at one of the service trip sites in 2012.
Understanding Differences
“We’re Not in Minnesota Anymore: Preparing for Your Service Trip" is a workshop at the Diversity Summit that is open to all students, not just those who plan to participate in a service trip.

The workshop is intended to help students appreciate different cultural backgrounds. This skill is especially important when embarking on a student service trip. “People often go to help others with the attitude that they are somehow superior to the people they are helping,” said Shelley Smith, associate professor in Instructional Development Service, and one of the workshop’s organizers. “Sometimes people adopt a sort of ‘savior complex' without recognizing what they are doing." she said. "Our aim it to remind people that cultural differences do not necessarily make anyone better than another.”

Active Participation
Activities and small group discussions will make the workshop lively. They encourage students to critically think about and analyze information. Participation is a stronger way of learning than simply listening. In the activity, “I am from…,” students write down information about their past and share it with others, which sparks a conversation about cultural backgrounds.

“Students share memories from their past. Stories about food, popular phrases, important family members, and sensory information such as sights, smells, and sounds from childhood are exchanged,” Smith said. “It's a lighthearted way to highlight cultural differences. Everyone has a favorite food or some memories of their childhood. We learn how similar we all are.”

The Summit is sponsored by UMD Diversity Commission, Office of Cultural Diversity, and the Kirby Leadership Institute.

For more information contact Chris Davila, or 218-726-8389.







Written by Cheryl Reitan. February, 2015.

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Cheryl Reitan,

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