Normally I use this space to tackle a current issue. Then I go on to try and encourage change or action. I’m not doing that today.
Instead, I’m taking this column and turning it (for this issue) into a list of reasons that we, as students at Pacific University, have a promising future ahead of us in terms of cultural inclusion. I don’t take much opportunity to focus on the positives, and as a proponent of change, I get caught up sometimes in the doing, and don’t take enough time to look at what we’ve done.
People of Pacific, we have so much reason for hope.
Two weekends ago at our Student Senate’s 3rd Annual Pacific University Leadership Conference, which is a victory in itself, Elaichi Kimaro—a Korean-Tanzanian born here in the states—came to speak. We even screened her film, which follows her on an epic exploration of her paternal roots.
And speaking of ROOTS, the students of Pacific formed a new organization, focused on Reshaping Our Opinions Through Sharing. It’s a means to connect students of different cultural backgrounds, and after a semester of getting off the ground, it’s ready for some time in the spotlight.
Supporting all of these events, the staff of Pacific proved themselves worthy of the cause. Orientation, in the past two years, made major strides in including diversity into their program, through the Faces of Pacific program. The Whiteley Lecture this year brought us the inspirational John Carlos. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, comes to us at the end of this month. And the folks over at ACE never fail to find incredible talent that’s also culturally relevant.
Even the faculty are getting involved. They’re continually adding classes with cultural relevance, places where we can develop a greater appreciation for others while still maintaining academic studies. Also, if you haven’t attended a culture forum sponsored by the sociology department, you’ve missed some eye-opening discussions sparked and deepened by students themselves.
Students. Staff. Faculty. All banding together to make our campus more inclusive. All working together to bridge the gap between cultures, to summit the walls dividing our campus by ethnicity and prejudice.
The work is far from completed, and we’ve got a long way to go, but I take comfort in knowing that we’re moving forward. Sometimes we get so caught up in the present that we forget that. So I’d like to take this moment to thank all of the people who put in the effort to make Pacific a more accepting place, who give us a reason for hope. And if you’d like to join in on that effort, almost all of the movements mentioned here are looking for people who care, and are willing to help.
Let this article be a celebration of all we have accomplished, but more importantly, let it offer evidence that we have the potential to accomplish so much more. Here’s looking to a brighter future for all of us.