Building a culturally competent campus

DAC co-chairs Dr. Maria Tenorio and Christian Aniciete along with Global Diversity and Inclusion executive assistant Patrick Villaflores pose for a photo with Illumination Project student educators

DAC co-chairs Dr. Maria Tenorio and Christian Aniciete along with Global Diversity and Inclusion executive assistant Patrick Villaflores with the Portland Community College Illumination Project student educators

Author: Dr. Maria Tenorio and Christian Aniciete

Seventy-three years ago last Thursday, February 19, then U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which called for the exclusion and internment of all Japanese Americans from the West Coast where the majority of Japanese Americans lived, outside of Hawaii. Exclusion and incarceration of Japanese Americans began the following month. Few, if any of us, recall that day in our country’s history, or mark that anniversary as a time when intolerance and racism defined how we treated our fellow Americans whose constitutional civil rights and liberties were taken from them in a period marked by hysteria of fear.

Yet, February 19, 2015 marked a time when the Portland State University campus welcomed students and staff of Portland Community College who presented The Illumination Project, a stunningly powerful performance of interactive theatre as a forum for social justice, education, community building, and problem solving. It was a special time for the PSU campus as the workshop kicked off PSU Diversity Action Council’s cultural competency training series in an effort to build a more culturally informed and responsive campus. The Illumination Project involved Student Educators/actors and audience members joining together to find solutions to the challenges of racism as an overflow audience was invited to enter scenes and change performance outcomes. Workshop participants built understanding and skills for creating a climate of equality, compassion, and respect by exploring actions and outcomes through open dialogue.

We are grateful to interim coordinator Brad Fortier, former coordinator Jeannie La France, their student leaders and members of the PSU community who participated in this moving effort of solidarity, dialogue and action. A video of the workshop can be found here along with the some photos taken that day:

Students, faculty, staff, and friends anxiously enter the Multicultural Center

Brad Fortier, Tia Gomez Zeller, Dr. Maria Tenorio and Christian Aniciete

Students, faculty, staff and community members pack the Multicultural Center for “Illumination Project: Rehearsing to Stop Oppression”

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“Illumination Project: Rehearsing to Stop Oppression” kicks off the Diversity Action Council’s cultural competency training series

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Student educators along with interim coordinator Brad Fortier make up the Illumination Project

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Student educators act out scenes and give audience members an opportunity to interrupt a form of oppression

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Illumination Project student educators interact with audience members

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The cast of the Illumination Project entertain questions from the audience

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