Fall 2020 — Everyone has some form of culture, heritage, history, identify or self-expression. It’s one of the great things about being part of the Oregon State University community. There are so many opportunities to connect and learn from others.
Diversity & Cultural Engagement is one platform for collaborating. Through programs, events and seven Corvallis campus cultural resource centers, DCE empowers students to engage in the learning process and identify ways to make an impact.
“We provide various opportunities for students to engage, learn, reflect and take action,” says Reagan Le, Diversity & Cultural Engagement director. “A lot of the time, it’s done in collaboration with folks outside of DCE.”
Some recent examples include Saber es Poder: Latinx Leadership & Advocacy, an event conducted in collaboration with the Centro Cultural César Chávez, Community Engagement & Leadership and community organizations in Woodburn; Asian & Pacific Cultural Center and AYA: Womxn of Color producing podcasts shared on KBVR; and the Native American Longhouse Eena Haws’s Climate Justice in Indigenous Communities event presented in collaboration with The Pacific Climate Warriors.
“Our work goes beyond the physical spaces of the cultural resource centers,” Le says. “The heart of our work comes from the amazing student staff and professional staff members.”
DCE’s work with students and community members is relational, and success is best measured by the personal impact that the program is making. Inclusivity means different things to different people, Le explains. “Inclusivity happens when someone engages with DCE with an open mind and heart and that is reciprocated as they engage in mutual learning and growth,” he says.
Students and other community members do not need to share an identity to participate. But there are nuances and complexities of identities, lived experiences, historical contexts and other social factors that may impact people’s experiences. As a way to start learning, Le encourages students to take ethnic studies or women, gender and sexuality courses. When people do their part in their own learning, they will be ready to engage in mutual learning.
“Historically marginalized communities are always expected to teach others, so it’s important for folks to do their part, so it becomes a mutual experience, instead of one-sided,” Le says.
In response to the pandemic, DCE has moved to remote delivery of services and programming. The relational nature of the work makes it more challenging to be in community. But it also creates opportunity. “We’re engaging more with folks who cannot physically be on campus, including alumni, community members and students, staff and faculty from other institutions,” Le says.
Meanwhile, DCE has virtual hours for its cultural resource centers and is sharing podcasts, webcasts and digital media to keep people engaged.
With so many cultural resources available, there’s no end to growing and developing knowledge.