At WCU, diversity is a true community affair

“Diversity is the world” was the overall message for Diversity Week event on Thursday, Sept. 18, held by Western Carolina University’s Department of Intercultural Affairs in the University Center Grand Room.

The event opened up with a skit showcasing stereotypes. Afterwards, the attention was on the week’s keynote speakers Monti Washington and Julia Garcia who presented their interactive program “Diversity University.”

The program’s purpose was to help students understand to look beyond their biases and embrace diversity.

Both speakers performed poetry and detailed their life experiences dealing with adversity and even engaged with the crowd.

The speakers took selfies with the audience.Photo courtesy of Monti Washington

The speakers took selfies with the audience.
Photo courtesy of Monti Washington

“Words are weapons,” Washington said, describing the challenges that people face when it comes to diversity. He talked about his upbringings, being in and out of foster homes, often abused and beaten up. Despite all the odds and stereotypes he is now a successful man, an actor, life coach and award-winning spoken word poet.

His co-speaker Garcia talked about her adversity, being a biracial child, and trying to figure out her identity. As she said “change, growth, and transformation,” are important words that describe diversity. Garcia is the author of “Somewhere In Between,” and founder of Truality, a movement that combines motivational speaking with the creative arts.

The event concluded with attendees holding up “T-signs” with their hands standing for the TRU movement.

Although the department would like to reach out to more people for Diversity Week, The Intercultural Affairs associate director, Takeshia Brown was happy with the program saying that even if one person is impacted from what the speakers had to say then the event was successful.

Diversity Week has been around for 15 years, and is organized by Western Carolina Department of Intercultural Affairs and The Office of Student Involvement and Leadership co-sponsored the event.