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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Olé, Diversity!

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

January 20, 2015

The Clarksdale Municipal School District’s Magnet School Office of Grant Administration and Curriculum and the University of Mississippi’s Department of Modern Languages are partnering together in January and February to highlight diversity at four schools by celebrating Hispanic culture.

The celebration titled, Olé, Diversity! will be a one-hour long event where Spanish instructors and students from UM will interact and engage students and parents at Kirkpatrick Health & Medical Science Elementary School, Booker T. Washington International Studies Elementary School, Heidelberg STEAM Elementary School, and Oakhurst Intermediate School, with a presentation about Hispanic culture that will help them to learn more about different cultures and appreciate and gain more respect for people from different countries and backgrounds.

The program is a goal of the CMSD Magnet Office, which operates under the Magnet School Assistance Program Grant, to eliminate, reduce, and prevent minority isolation. Magnet Office Project Director, Edwin Robinson, said he believes that their collaboration with UM is a “wonderful opportunity” to provide diversity awareness and to also help to improve the diversity in their schools.

“If we really dive into the premise of the grant, diversity is key,” Robinson said. “We know that diversity will provide opportunities for exposure and learning for young people and allow them to meet new people and better equip them for future work in society.”

Donald Dyer, chair and professor of the Department of Modern Languages at UM, said that as a department and as a university as well, working with area school districts to help them with different educational initiatives, especially issues of international education and diversity, is a very important part of what they do.

“Students and parents are going to be able to interact with speakers of Spanish who represent different countries and cultures, and when it comes to an experience like that, there’s nothing better than face-to-face, hands-on exposure to the people of their cultures…so, I think it’s going to be an opportunity for the students and the parents to learn more about people who are not like them—people who speak a different language and people who represent different international cultures.”

The program is open to the public and will be held at four different dates and locations—Tuesday, January 27 at Kirkpatrick Elementary; Thursday, January 29 at 1 p.m. at Booker T. Washington Elementary; Wednesday, February 11 at Heidelberg Elementary and Tuesday, February 26 at Oakhurst Intermediate School.