The opening ceremony for Fresno State’s Diversity Awareness Week took place in the Free Speech Area Monday, featuring sign language poetry, dancing and speakers.
The ceremony featured sign language poetry and interpretation by Rosemary Diaz, a deaf studies professor. Diaz signed the poem “You Have to Be Deaf to Understand” by Willard J. Madsen.
“What is it like to comprehend some nimble fingers that paint the scene and make you smile and feel serene with the ‘spoken word’ of the moving hand that makes you part of the world at large?” Diaz signed to the crowd.
“You have to be deaf to understand. What is it like to ‘hear’ a hand? Yes, you have to be deaf to understand.”
Planned by the Central Cultural Heritage Center, Diversity Awareness Week will have different events to promote diversity through Friday. Some events that will occur during the week include the Vagina Monologues, the Diversity Conference and guest presentations such as political activist Angela Davis.
Dr. Francine Oputa, director of the Center for Women and Culture, hosted the opening ceremony.
Oputa said diversity week is a way to get people to analyze what diversity really means.
“When people think about diversity, they usually think of ethnicity and race, and diversity is so much more than that,” Oputa said. “It’s age, gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, religion, learning style, ability. So diversity is very broad.”
Oputa also encourages people to be brave in reaching out to groups other than their own.
“It’s not always easy and comfortable, but when people make those decisions to go to an event of a group that is different than them, more likely than not they are going to be welcomed, and people are going to appreciate you taking an interest in their club, organization or culture,” Oputa said.
“I would encourage people to take risks and seek out groups and cultures other than their own. It’s very warding.”