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Friday, September 29, 2023


CAPS catalyzes open dialogue on diversity

UH students are no strangers to diversity, and at Counseling and Psychological Services’ (CAPS) annual Diversity Institute on Wednesday, the campus community will have the chance to peer through the veil of stereotypes and misconceptions.

Multicultural postdoctoral student Angela Hartman organized this year’s Diversity Institute to allow attendees to grow from a multicultural experience.’

‘This year, I wanted to have it be about the experiential side, but also about how being multi-culturally competent is important as we train future leaders,’ Hartman said. ‘We live in a diverse world, and diversity variables are not just happening on a university campus. It’s in the work force and in every setting.’

Vice president of Student Affairs Elwyn Lee will give the day’s opening remarks.

‘Diversity is something that (Lee) is very passionate about,’ Hartman said. ‘He very much stands behind the Diversity Institute and wants this to be a kind of showcase event and have as many students faculty and staff involved as possible.’

After Lee’s address, students, faculty and staff will form groups, which represent different cultures. The cultures will have to interact with one another based on the norms of their respective cultures.

Hartman said these cross-cultural experiences produce some funny moments, but also career some serious lessons.

‘One culture might offer somebody food because that’s their way of showing care and respect, and then we might give another culture the norm that you never accept food for somebody in public,’ Hartman said. ‘There might be a perception or a misperception that somebody’s being rude, but they’re just following the norms of their culture. After each activity, time will be spent processing and discussing what was learned and how it applies to real life.’

The exercise explores the variables that can cause culture shock and breaks down negative stereotypes, Hartman said.

‘It’s a very fun activity to get people up and moving and interacting. It’s sort of an icebreaker, but it’s very impactful,’ she said.

Students can participate in as many of the Diverse Institute events as their schedule allows. The day is divided into time-block segments to allow faculty and students to attend between classes.

‘If the students can only commit for two hours, they could come, they could get something out of those two hours and then they could go to class,’ Hartman said. ‘It’s also something to connect the community because staff and faculty can attend as well.’

The day’s second activity will explicate disability issues.

With the help of CAPS interns, able-bodied people will have an opportunity to consider how their day would be different if confronted with the barriers that exist for people who use wheelchairs.’

‘I think this is really important because disability issues can impact us all. It’s the largest minority population and it’s represented by all groups within disability in terms of race, sexual orientation, culture,’ Hartman said. ‘Disabilities exist across all of those identifications, and it’s the one that at any point in our lives, we all can become a part of that group, and I don’t think enough people are aware of that.’

The Diversity Institute will give participants a short quiz to learn their oppression IQ. People will then discuss issues of oppression across different diversity variables.’

‘People will be taking the quiz individually, but then we’ll process the answers and discuss as a group,’ Hartman said.

The oppression IQ quiz will introduce topics for multicultural conversations. Groups of about six people will have the chance to sit and discuss questions related to their own cultural variables, such as culture, background, how they view other cultures and what stereotypes exist there.

‘I think the small group offers an opportunity for people to have some more safety and comfort. They’ve been doing some of these activities within their table, so there’s some familiarity and they can talk about the multicultural variables and also looking at the intersection of our different identities,’ Hartman said.

All of the day’s events will culminate in the final exercise, which Hartman said students should attend to learn about. It will, however, involve lemons.

The CAPS Diversity Institute was the brainchild of former CAPS director Ken Waldman. It has existed for approximately 10 years, Hartman said, and is a part of UH’s multicultural post-doctorate program – one of the nations longest-standing program of its kind.

CAPS director Norma Ngo will make closing remarks to tie the day’s lessons about multiculturalism and diversity into what it mean to be a leader in today’s international marketplace.’

Diversity Institute

When: Wednesday’
Where: Elisabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion, M.D. Anderson Memorial Library

12:30 ‘- 12:45 p.m.: Check-in, pizza lunch, welcome from multicultural postdoctoral Fellow Angela Hartman

12:45 ‘- 1 p.m.:Opening remarks from Elwyn Lee, vice president and vice chancellor of student affairs

1 ‘- 1:45 p.m.: Cross-cultural experiences

1:45 ‘- 2:15 p.m.: ‘Visualizing’ disability’

2:15 ‘- 2:30 p.m.: Break

2:30 ‘- 3 p.m.: What’s your oppression IQ?

3 ‘- 3:30 p.m.: Multicultural conversation

3:30 ‘- 4 p.m.: When life hands you a lemon, peel it

4 ‘- 4:15 p.m.: Discussion and wrap up

4:15 ‘- 4:30 p.m.: Closing remarks from CAPS interim Director Norma Ngo

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