SIUE Diversity Events Slated for Aug. 27 and 28

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The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus community and the public will have a chance to participate in a series of diversity events on Tuesday, Aug. 27 and Wednesday, Aug. 28. “An Unfinished Conversation” will be facilitated by internationally renowned documentary filmmaker and master diversity trainer Lee Mun Wah.

Lee Mun Wah

“What I want to tell you is that these eyes I have are beautiful. They are not slanted, but black, like the black onyx of my mother’s. To me, they are just as American as blue eyes.

The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus community and the public will have a chance to participate in a series of diversity events on Tuesday, Aug. 27 and Wednesday, Aug. 28. “An Unfinished Conversation” will be facilitated by internationally renowned documentary filmmaker and master diversity trainer Lee Mun Wah. All events will be held in the Morris University Center.

“The appreciation of diversity and inclusiveness are important SIUE values,” said Dr. Aminata Cairo, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and chair of the department’s diversity committee. “But dealing with diversity is not always easy. Just because we value it, does not necessarily mean we know how to do it or do it well.

“A true commitment to appreciating diversity and living with diversity requires effort. With the help of Mr. Lee Mun Wah, we will address this issue. In anthropology, appreciating the richness of culture and diversity is our bread and butter. The key is to address it together as a university community, which is what the “We Are One” campaign is all about.”

On Aug. 27 from 7-7:30 p.m., Lee, a community therapist, will deliver “What Stands Between Us” for the public. Later, from 7:30-9 p.m., the educator, author and poet will facilitate a student dialogue session “How to Have a Dialogue Across Cultures.”

In one of Lee’s many videos, he gives a vital ingredient in realizing multiculturalism: “Every seat you’re sitting in is just like a neighborhood - the neighborhood you live in. Until you come out of it, you will still be looking at diversity and multiculturalism and thinking that just because we have a room full of diversity that somehow we’re multicultural. That is one of the greatest myths of America. Multiculturalism means you make good use of the cultures that are here.”

On Aug. 28 from 1-5 p.m., the Chinese American will conduct the faculty and staff training, “Diversity Conversations.” Lee is the executive director of Stirfry Seminars & Consulting, a diversity training company that provides educational tools and workshops on issues pertaining to cross-cultural communication and awareness, “mindful” facilitation and conflict mediation.

Lee tells audiences that real open and honest dialogue about diversity can and will be difficult. “We are bound to get upset and to say things that will insult some or be turn off others. But the work will depend on whether or not we’re going to stay in the ‘room’ and/or keep at it.”

On Aug. 28 from 7-10 p.m., the award-winning filmmaker will present the film If These Halls Could Talk to the public with a dialogue session to follow. Lee’s most famous film about racism, The Color of Fear, won the Gold Medal for Best Social Studies Documentary. Part two of the same film, Walking Each Other Home, won the Cindy Competition Silver Medal for Social Science. His first film, Stolen Ground, about the experience of Asian Americans, won honorable mention at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Oprah Winfrey did a one-hour special in 1995 on Lee’s life work, and it was seen by more than 15 million viewers.

In his presentations, Lee takes time to tell his audiences who he is. In one film, the Chinese American had this to say: “What I want to tell you is that these eyes I have are beautiful. They are not slanted, but black, like the black onyx of my mother’s. To me, they are just as American as blue eyes.

“My black hair is just as beautiful as blond hair. This voice that carries the richness of my Cantonese and Mandarin ancestors is beautiful. My name – Lee Mun Wah – is just as American as any president, any senator or any CEO. I will not have it taken from me. Who I am, is who I was. My name is Lee Mun Wah.”

In other dialogues, Lee went on to say: “I think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was right when he said: ‘We fear each other, because we hate each other. We hate each other, because we don’t know each other. And we don’t know each other, because we are separated from each other.’

“The only way we will come together is to truly know each other and stay in the room, rather than once a year doing a multicultural program. The choice ultimately is always ours.”
For more information about Lee Mun Wah visit, stirfryseminars.com, facebook.com/leemunwah or youtube.com/stirfryberkeley.

For more information about the Campus Wide Diversity Event or to register, contact Cairo at acairo@siue.edu.

The SIUE Campus Wide Diversity Event is sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Psychology, the School of Education’s Diversity Committee, the Department of Theater and Dance; the College of Arts and Sciences; Student Affairs, Faculty Development Council and the Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (http://www.siue.edu) provides students with a high quality, affordable education that prepares them for successful careers and lives of purpose. Built on the foundation of a broad-based liberal education, and enhanced by hands-on research and real-world experiences, the academic preparation SIUE students receive equips them to thrive in the global marketplace and make our communities better places to live. Situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich bottom land and only a short drive from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is home to a diverse student body of nearly 14,000.

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Patricia Merritt
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
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