The 3rd Annual Celebration of National Diversity Day in Valparaiso was a virtual event this year. Dr. Nitha Nagubadi has been hosting this event, making sure that diversity is on the minds of many. Talking about diversity has always been important, but in 2020 the talks about diversity have been on the forth front. We’re starting to see some change, but more has to come.
The 3rd Annual Celebration of National Diversity Day started off with an introduction from Dr. Nitha Nagubadi. She talked about her work on Mango Networx, from consulting, special events, workshops, and focus areas. Plus, discussing how diversity and innovation work together. The collaboration that comes from different perspectives will produce new insights that works best for everyone. It breaks down the old structures to produce a new way of thinking and learning.
Next, Each Life is Precious, which supports local organizations. Introduced two new programs that they’re doing. The first program is the Cross Cultural Experience, one country will be picked each month and you’ll be fully immersed in that culture. (Ex. Food, clothes, school, etc). The second program is Breathing for Everyone, it’s to strengthen the immune system and help prevent illness.You can read more about these programs, plus more on the site.
We were introduced to the panelists who are a part of the leadership team in Valparaiso. The first speakers were Captain Joe Hall and Chief Jeff Balon. They spoke about what they’re doing in the community from, building trust and equity in the community to events such as Coffee With A Cop and Guardians of the Night Run. Next, Lori Brackett who’s the Director of HR presented her work that she does at Porter Hospital. Brackett talked about how Porter Hospital handled Covid- 19 and the procedure they’ve taken from the beginning. Also, discussing how they took in volunteers so they wouldn’t have to lay off/ furlough employees. Followed by Maggie Clifton, the Director of Community Engagement in the city of Valparaiso. Clifton talked about how they keep neighborhoods engaged, building community spirit and supporting local efforts, plus increasing communication throughout the community. Next, Dr. Erin Hawkins and Dr. Jim McCall talked about the student groups they offer at their school. VHS Muslim School Association, is a community of both non-Muslims and Muslims at VHS to help educate the student body about Islam. Also, VHS unified sports, a nationally recognized program that focuses on school wide inclusion. “Through partnerships between the IHSAA and Indiana Special Olympics, Unified Sports was created. Valpo Unified includes joining together students with diverse abilities.” Plus offering food programs and assistance for people in need of help in Valparaiso. Then, Aco Sikoski who is the Chancellor at Ivy Tech College. Sikoski talked about what they’ve done at Ivy Tech College during the pandemic. Plus, talking about race and equity to eliminate systematic racism, implementing a new structure for staff, and increasing diversity through leadership. Finally, I talked about Ethnic Events and the upcoming events that we have going on. We’re doing gourmet boxes at Ethnic Events and we have an upcoming event with Namaste India on Nov. 14.
We all know that diversity is everywhere and we should all be accepting. Being open to know about someone else and their culture will not only educate you on that culture, but will open your mind as well. We live in a world that is a melting pot and the more perspectives you can learn from the better.
By Raven Palmer