Diversity Talk: My Life, My Story

PSWS lion shrine

The Nittany Lion Shrine at Penn State Worthington Scranton.

Credit: Penn State

DUNMORE, Pa. — It started with a thought: Harness the cultural backgrounds and stories of faculty and staff at Penn State Worthington Scranton to promote diversity both on campus and in the local community and educate them on the different walks of life that can be found right here at home.

James Hart, instructor of communication arts and sciences and a long-time member of the campus’ Diversity Council, shared his idea with Martin Lacayo, coordinator of multicultural affairs and development, and the two collaborated on the end result: "Diversity Talk: My Life, My Story."

“Jim wanted to incorporate faculty and staff, anyone with a cultural (or diverse) background, to educate the campus on the different walks of life and help each other learn and understand,” Lacayo said.

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, this unique, yet simple, idea will become reality as two students will present their stories at the new "Diversity Talk: My Life, My Story" seminar, taking place at 3 p.m. in The View Café.

Duong “Willow” Nguyen, a student at Worthington Scranton, will share her story about growing up in Vietnam and how she ventured from there to here. Fellow student Rocio Saavedra will be speaking about Argentina.

This event marks the first time something like this has taken place at Worthington Scranton, and organizers are hoping it will be successful and lead to a regular series of talks presented at the campus involving more students, faculty and staff.

Another session is scheduled for Thursday, March 23.

Both Hart and Lacayo hope that this new series will encourage the campus community to learn more about the various cultures that are right here.

“The goal is to educate so that the campus can familiarize to different cultures,” Lacayo explained. “We can learn to assimilate for different students to better understand them and work with them while they are here.”

Lacayo also spoke of his goal to see the campus engage in this program well enough to continue the Diversity Talk series during the next academic year with new speakers.

Both he and Hart are opening up the opportunities to any students, faculty and staff with a unique story to tell that somehow relates to diversity — be it culturally, ethnically, class, age, gender or experience-based.

The goal is to use these personal stories to enlighten the community about the differences of people within the community and to help them better understand, appreciate and relate to those who have experiened a different background and upbringing.

“We hope to receive good feedback from the presentations, and if we do, then the program will grow,” Lacayo stated.

Come listen to the presentations and support your peers. Listen to their stories, learn about their culture and become inspired by the people around you.

The first Diversity Talks session is Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 3:00 pm in The View Café. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. For more information contact Martin Lacayo at [email protected] or 570-963-2685.