Diversity Club dances toward unity

By JAMIE VERWYS

The words of Maya Angelou accompany the sound of a dancer’s feet hitting the floor at Pima Community College Downtown Campus. The swish of her dress plays out like a musical instrument as she recites beat poetry.

The Feb. 12 event in honor of Black History Month was the first by a group of about 12 students and faculty who share a goal of educating Pima’s students on the value of diversity.

The new Diversity Club hopes to unify PCC students and empower them with a new understanding of different cultural groups.

“Instead of having a club dealing with one issue, one ethnicity and one idea, let’s expand to include everyone,” club adviser Sharon Arceneaux said.

The club plans to host an event each month focusing on a different culture. Members hope to expand the club to the other PCC campuses.

“We are trying to give to the community in different aspects,” club president and founding member Rahsheen Taborn said. “They can come in and rejoice with us and we can educate them about everybody. There will be no stereotyping in this college, ever.”

During the Feb. 12 event, the club hosted a diversity workshop and a performance by Tucson dancer Barbea Williams. Members also provided free Eegees sandwiches to students.

Speaker Michael Engs opened with an interactive presentation that included an exercise for audience members.

“Diversity is the awareness that all of us have unique gifts to offer the world and you have to tap into that gift that the other person has,” he said. “It’s really the source of everything that’s not violent.”

Engs has worked at PCC since 1973 as an advisor, counselor, administrator and instructor. He currently teaches Dynamics of Leadership at the Downtown Campus.

“Pima has the ability to help create people and make them better at who they are,” he said.

Williams performed choreo-poetry and led the audience in a call-and-response style of dance.

Her dance group, Barbea Williams Performing Company, has expressed African heritage through dance, face painting and choreo-potery since 1975.

“I have lived in a lot of different worlds and had a lot of different exposures,” Williams said. “It’s made me the person I am. I am a powerful woman of African descent and that allows me to interact with people very naturally because I know who I am.”

The Diversity Club plans two events for March.

The first, a food fair called Taste of Downtown Campus, will expose students to the foods of different cultures. All PCC students and staff are invited to prepare their best dish, to be judged by the community.

The club will also host a Market on the Move on March 29 from 8-11 a.m. in the north parking lot of Downtown Campus.

The program, created by the nonprofit 300 Club, gathers unsold produce from distributors in Nogales and brings it to varied locations. A $10 donation buys up to 60 pounds of fresh produce.

The Diversity Club is seeking about 30 volunteers for the setup, cleanup and running of the event. The group will receive about 20 pallets of food from the 300 Club and will service up to 800 families.

The Diversity Club is open to all who share its vision of unity for the people of Tucson. Meetings are held every Thursday from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Student Life room, LB-172, at Downtown Campus.

For additional information, email Sharon Arceneaux at sarceneaux@pima.edu.

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Barbea Williams, front, leads Diversity Club members in a dance celebration at a Feb. 12 gathering in honor of Black History Month. Jamie Verwys/ Aztec Press

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