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2014 Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

2014NativePrideDancerswebNovember, Native American Heritage Month (NAHM), is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people.

NAHM is also a time to educate the campus and community about tribes, raise a general awareness about the challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and to participate in a number of Native celebrations and traditions.

Heritage months can encourage and stimulate students to be aware of and think about groups of people different than their own. It can challenge people to think outside of their comfort zones and be conscious of the hardships other groups have endured. Events and celebrations engage and teach students about a group of marginalized people in fun and interactive ways.

While the months prompt awareness, they also spark collaborations among groups across campus. These groups come together in support of one another. During Native American Heritage Month the SDIS office will collaborate with numerous offices and groups on campus to join in the celebration.
For details of events please check out our NAHM page.


Expand your world, Explore your identity

parisJust as the face of America is rapidly changing, it is becoming increasingly important for students in the U.S. to travel and study in other countries. Study abroad opens a world of opportunities to students from diverse backgrounds. Whether you are interested in exploring your identity through your heritage, experiencing a third culture, or gaining professional and academic experience in your major, study abroad expands your world.
Student Diversity and Inclusion Services along with the UST Study Abroad office, encourage greater diversity in study abroad, particularly among students of color. Not only will your participation make you competitive for graduate school and in the work place, it will also ensure that our programs reflect the diversity of our campus and our country.
For minority students, studying abroad may present special challenges. These challenges may include discrimination, depending on how foreign cultures perceive your particular ethnicity. However, your ethnic uniqueness can also benefit you while living in a foreign country, providing you with opportunities that can be gained while studying abroad.
Minority students often discover that their uniqueness facilitates conversation, creates curiosity, and attracts people. Also students of color often find that they adapt quickly to their host community because of their minority experience in the U.S. As a minority in the U.S., you interact daily with both the majority culture and with other minority cultures, and this experience crossing cultural divides has prepared you to engage cultures and societies in other countries. You might find it easier to accept different perspectives and be more open-minded about different cultures.
If you are planning on studying abroad make sure not to miss the deadline to apply for out J-Term International Education Study Abroad Scholarships
Here is a list of great resources to help you as you decide your study abroad options.


Celebrating Black History Month at UST

In February, during Black History Month, Student Diversity and Inclusion Services and the St. Thomas Community celebrate the achievements and acknowledge the struggles of African-2014BlackHistoryMonthEvents2Americans. This is, of course, a year-round responsibility. We believe that Black history, like American history, should be studied 365 days a year. Yet we continue to view February as the critical month for recognizing the achievements and historical journey of the African American community.
Black History Month traces its origins to the first Negro History Week in February 1926, which was selected because it included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two key figures in the history of African Americans. It was expanded from a week to a month in 1976 by a message from U.S. President Gerald Ford.
Lectures, musical events, and a soul food dining options are events planned at the University of St. Thomas as part of our Black History Month celebration. These events integrate personal histories of triumph through art, discussion and performance. Find a list of these events on our web page, and be sure to like us on Facebook where we will share pictures and videos of our community while we together commemorate the meaning of this month long celebration.

Additional ways to observe and learn as the nation honors African American History Month during February can be found in the following links:

2014 Presidential proclamation

Knowing the Past Opens the Doors to the Future- NMAAHC Black Hsitory Month article


SDIS Offers Student Leadership Positions- Apply Today!

Employers love hearing that you took a leadership position while in school. Whether you were club president or head of the social committee, showing you are willing to step up to the plate and be a leader shows employers you can handle responsibility and manage people.
Student leadership positions are a great way to build people skills and gain leadership experience before you get out in the working world. A Communications & Journalism major, for example, can get a feel for the publishing world by writing or editing news releases as a SDIS Program Intern or creating marketing materials as our Social Media Coordinator Intern. A student majoring in Political Science can benefit from being involved in the planning of our educational events and/or serving as a Linkages Peer Mentor Program Interns.
Besides gaining valuable skills such as communication, teamwork , and organizational, Student Leadership positions are a great way to gain experience and enhance your resume.
The SDIS office has several Leadership Positions open and we encourage you to learn more about them and contact our office for more information.

REAL Program Adviser,student leadership
Linkages Peer Mentor
Program Intern,
Social Media Coordinator Intern

For a list of ALL other Student Leadership Positions please take a look at this chart

For more information on the application process visit this page.

Your college leadership experience will prepare you for what’s next—and now it’s time to learn how to use it. Remember Campus leadership experience can do a lot to show prospective employer what you’re made of!


What is “Culture Stew”?

On November 20th, we had our first ever “Culture Stew”. “Culture Stew” is an open dialogue for students to experience and share what they see. There were about 20 people who attended the informative event. It was a success through seeing people of different backgrounds share and experience real world situations. The main topic of our first meeting was “Race and Space”. It was led by Dr. Lawrence from the English and American Culture & Difference departments.

He walked us through different illustrated areas in our own backyard and told us to identify colors that would be associated with it. Most students were quick to comment on the color, as a majority of them said the same color(s). As I was looking around the room, many of the students did not want to openly declare what color they associated loudly. It was very quiet and dispersed throughout the room. But as the discussions and explanations were being told, more and more people were participating in the activity.

I knew a lot of people were learning and experiencing other’s views. Many of them had a puzzled face, which meant that they were learning something knew. They just needed to better understand, in which Dr. Lawrence did a great job in explaining the situation.

Overall, the first “Culture Stew” went very well, as many students were satisfied with SDIS putting on an event that helped bring others into their viewpoints. We hope to continue this program throughout second semester, so be on the lookout for another “Culture Stew”. You ABSOLUTELY DO NOT want to miss out on the next one. Keep subscribed to our blogs and Facebook page to keep up on our future events.

Culture Stew Crew

The “Culture Stew” Crew!



Culture Stew- Stir the pot and add flavor to it!

bowl of soupAt this stage in our growth, our country and our campus, are more like a giant stewpot containing big chunks of different, yet clearly distinguishable, ingredients. We have many cultures and stories that we can share. They come together to form a deliciously distinctive combination of flavors.
In the past the blending of our cultures was described as a Melting pot” by some and by others referred as a “salad bowl.” The shortages of the melting pot and salad bowl paradigms can be expressed in the following summarizing parables: In the case of the melting pot the aim is that all cultures become reflected in one common culture, however this is generally the culture of the dominant group – I thought this was mixed vegetable soup but I can only taste tomato. In the case of the salad bowl, cultural groups should exist separately and maintain their practices and institutions, however, “where is the dressing to cover it all?” Hopefully the solution may be offered by the concept of the ethnic stew where all the ingredients are mixed in a sort of pan-Hungarian goulash where the pieces of different kinds of meat still keep their solid structure .
That is the idea behind our “Culture Stew” series, we hope to bring together members of the St. Thomas community to a time and place where we can collectively have an open dialogue related to campus, local, national, and/or international events and topics that affect or interest us. In providing a forum for the many voices on our campus to be heard, we hope that, through education and conversation, we can bring about enlightenment, understanding, and acceptance.
Our first “Culture Stew” will take place Wednesday, November 20, 2013 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Location Anderson Student Center Hearth Room 3rd Floor

Sponsored by SDIS and the UST American Culture and Differences Department



2013 Kente Summit

Over the past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Kente Summit for collegiate Black men.  The event was aimed at Black students from any of the Minnesota private colleges, and there were well over 50 students in attendance over the course of the two days.  This was the third annual Kente Summit, and the theme was “Embracing Boldness, Brilliance, and Belonging”.  The event started on Friday night at Macalester College with a call to community and a welcome from the Kente Summit planning committee, followed by a great dinner and discussion among the participants.  The weekend’s first keynote address followed, with Dr. Alexs Pate, author of Amistad: The Novel, discussing “The Challenge of Self-Liberation as Preparation for Leadership”.  He talked about being absolutely true to yourself, and being proud and confident in that, no matter what others (or even society) have proven to expect of you.  He described it as reclaiming one’s innocence.  Very powerful. Dr. Pate was extremely engaging and you could tell the entire room left feeling inspired.

Dr. Alexs Pate speaking to the students after Friday's dinner.

Dr. Alexs Pate speaking to the students after Friday’s dinner.

Everyone returned Saturday morning, and day two of the Kente Summit began with an opening from Shed G, actor in several Tyler Perry movies and radio personality for KMOJ’s (89.9 FM) morning show.  He talked about his experience going to college and had everybody laughing!  After the opening, the students were given the choice of three different breakout sessions on the following topics: African Americans in the Media (presented by Shed G); Making the Jump from College to Career (presented by Chris Buckley, career professional for U of MN’s College of Liberal Arts); and John Harrington (Chief of Metro Transit Police).

Shed G waking us up with some jokes on Saturday morning.

Shed G waking us up with jokes on Saturday morning.

After a nice lunch, the students heard from the final speaker of the Kente Summit, Melvin Carter. Carter is the director of the Office of Early Learning at the MN Dept. of Education, and former member of the St. Paul City Council.  He described how he is an example of how one can achieve success despite humble beginnings, with passion and dedication.  More breakout sessions followed, which included the following: Impacting the Community (presented by Melvin Carter), The African Diaspora (presented by Leon Rodrigues, Chief Diversity Officer at Bethel University), and Intersecting Identities of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexual Orientation (presented by Dr. Whitney Stewart Harris, Exec. Director for Diversity at Minnesota Community & Technical College).

Finally, the students gathered together in five different groups to discuss one of several topics that came up over the course of the Kente Summit, such as relationships between Black American students and African or African-American students; redefining traditional perceptions of Black masculinity; and what can be done to carry this Kente Summit experience forward to create a lasting sense of community among the participants, among others.  After the discussion groups, we brought the event to a close with a call to action to go forward leaning on the community they have built at the Kente Summit to continue through the journey of higher education, spreading the knowledge and connections that were gained.

2013 Kente Summit participants

2013 Kente Summit participants

On a personal level, it was incredibly energizing to see such a talented, and thoughtful group of young men of color gathered together.  So many of the students had great questions, intriguing stories, and unique viewpoints that it was truly a valuable experience to be a part of such a great event.  We had some great students from St. Thomas attend the Kente Summit, but it is my hope that we will be able to have even more attend next year.  I was privileged enough to be a part of the planning committee for the event, along with other professionals from Augsburg College, Macalester College, Concordia University, Hamline University, and the Minnesota Private College Council (the primary sponsor), and I also hope to be a part of it next year as well. The 2013 Kente Summit was definitely a success, and I think it really set the bar high for next year.