The Uniting Neighbors in the Experience of Diversity (UNITED) conferences bring a collection of speakers, movies, presentations and exhibits geared toward informing NMU students and the public of multiple views on diversity.
The conferences, with the exception of the film “Finding Dawn” on Sept. 25 and the recent visit by Tim Wise on Sept. 14, will officially begin with NMU’s President Fritz Erickson’s opening remarks at 9 a.m. on Sept. 26 in the Great Lakes Rooms, according to the NMU homepage for UNITED.
Shirley Brozzo, associate director of the Multicultural Education and Resource Center and UNITED conference committee member, said the 11th annual conferences are being hosted to promote diversity not just on campus but also to the community and that there will be something for both students and the public to take away from the discussions.
“To be aware of how much diversity there is and how you can look at it—not just race and ethnicity but diversity in foods, music, movies, religion and thought,” she said.
The first exhibit that will open is the Central Michigan University Clark Library’s Native Treaties, which travels throughout all of Michigan. This exhibit shares information on Native American treaties between their tribes and the U.S. government including the basic concepts of treaties, different rights, interactions with Michigan and education.
As a traveling exhibit, it will be displayed at the Olson Library from Sept. 24 until Oct. 9.
One of the conference’s featured speakers will be D.J. “Eagle Bear” Vanas, a leadership and personal development expert who wrote the book, “The Tiny Little Warrior: A Path to Personal Discovery and Achievement.”
According to Vanas’ website, he has worked in 49 states as well as abroad. His programs have been used by companies like IBM, NASA, and the Secret Service. Previously, Vanas was invited to speak at the White House twice.
He will speak on campus at 7 p.m. on Sept. 26 in the Great Lakes Rooms.
On Sept. 27th the general public will be able to meet Lali Khalid, a Pakistani raised photographer who learned about photography at a very young age from her father, according to her website.
Khalid has had work shown in places like the United States, France as well as Italy and has even been featured in multiple media publications, most recently F-Stop, a photography magazine.
Khalid said if her photographs are able to hold someone’s attention, she feels her job is done.
“I want people to engage in empathetic feeling when they see my photographs—to feel something familiar within,” she said in her interview with F-Stop.
Khalid’s work will be an exhibit at the student art gallery, located in the University Center, throughout the duration of the conferences. These are just some of the many events that are taking place during the week of UNITED conferences.
Many professors from NMU and other universities will present a variety of topics such as one from a Michigan Tech professor titled, “Why in the world do we need diverse perspectives on how humans interact with the water cycle?”
Another presentation will be given by University of Toledo professor Sujata Shetty called, “Looking Back and Looking Ahead: Shrinking Cities in the US Midwest.”
During lunch breaks at the conferences on Sept. 26 and 27, the public will have opportunities to meet some of the guest speakers. The presentations will be free for both students and the general public.
The conference schedule can be found online at www.nmu.edu/united/schedule.