Riverland to offer workshop on diversity issues

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 17, 2002

We come face to face with diversity every day. Whether it's in people from a different country, a different culture, a different part of the United States, people who are disabled or of the opposite sex, diversity is all around us.

To help the community and members of the college faculty, staff and student body understand and accept diversity, Riverland Community College Interim Dean Sue Howard will facilitate a free workshop. The workshop is entitled SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) and explores diversity issues from both a personal and professional perspective.

From September 2002 through May 2003, participants will meet one Thursday evening per month for a three-hour session at Riverland's Austin campus.

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In 2001-2002, Howard facilitated a SEED workshop for Riverland employees. Through a variety of experiences including activities, speakers, videos, discussion and readings, participants worked to see with different eyes, hear with different ears, and feel in deeper ways to embrace their own and others' diversity – diversity in gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and physical and mental limitations.

This year's workshop is open to Riverland faculty and staff and those who live in Austin and the surrounding communities.

Howard says the workshop affected everyone involved and changed their perspective of the world. "The group we had last year was such a strong group that grew in ways they never thought they would … they're all different because of the sessions. The purpose is not to make someone unprejudiced, it's to make them see the value of things in a different way. It really does change your life."

Susan Moore, a grant officer for RCC who participated in the sessions last year, agrees. "I thought it was great. I think of myself as a person who does not discriminate (but) I learned a lot. It was really balanced in all the different kinds of diversity it looks at."

Moore also liked the format of the workshops. "One of the nice things is that it gives you the opportunity to respond in a safe, comfortable environment. The fact everyone in the room is invested in the ideas and that they are asked to participate on a personal level was a good format."

The workshops begin Sept. 26 and have a limit of 20 people – 10 from the college and 10 from the community. So far, eight people from the college and five from the community have signed up. The first session will last from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact Sue Howard at Riverland Community College, 433-0549 (toll-free, 800-247-5039, x549) during the day, or at 437-6796 during the evening.

Amanda L. Rohde can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at :mailto:amanda.rohde@austindailyherald.com