Diversity group seeks community engagement

2012-09-25T20:09:00Z Diversity group seeks community engagementSUSAN EMERY Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
September 25, 2012 8:09 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | The city's Advisory Human Relations Council wants to increase its interaction with community members to get a better idea of the diversity-related issues they face.

At its regular monthly meeting Tuesday at Valparaiso City Hall, the council discussed how to boost its visibility and connections with residents.

Member Zahra Nwabara said she was disappointed the council didn't have a table at the recent World Cultural Festival in downtown Valparaiso.

“We are all busy but we also need to have that commitment to step up and do something in the community,” she said. “If something's happening, let's get out there and be seen.”

Nwabara, who is director of admissions at Valparaiso University Law School, said the university has many multicultural events that council members could attend. The events would provide the group with some exposure, she said.

She also called for the council to develop a consistent message to share about itself when it attends events.

Chairman Ivan Bodensteiner, a professor at the VU Law School, agreed the group should take advantage of multicultural events and asked members for ideas on how better to accomplish that.

Bill Lewis suggested members could sign up to attend events on a rotating basis. Rick Soria said it might be a good idea to get T-shirts that would identify them as members of the council.

The council also discussed what kinds of informational hand-outs they would provide, and members agreed to notify each other of upcoming events.

As part of efforts to connect with the community, Soria said he will schedule an informational session with the Valparaiso High School group STAND — Socially Together and Naturally Diverse.

Soria said he would like a few council members to attend one of STAND's meetings to share information about what the council does.

It's also a way for the council to learn about issues the high school students face, Nwabara said.

Several Valparaiso University students are expected to attend the council's meeting in October to describe issues they are facing.

The next meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at City Hall.

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