APU hosts first Diversity Mosaic Experience to educate community

On Feb. 20, APU’s Diversity Ambassador Program hosted their first Diversity Mosaic Experience (DME) event for students and faculty. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness and provide resources about diversity-related issues.

Scott Bledsoe, the DME Coordinator, said when he was growing up, the people he looked up to were the people on baseball cards.

“Since working on the DME project, the names of people I looked up to have changed. On your table are different kind of cards than the one I grew up with. The people on the cards are people that we can all look up to and learn from,” Bledsoe said.

The people on those cards are all people who speak about the different aspects of diversity. In addition to the cards, each of those people have videos on the DME website offering their perspective on their respective topics.

On their webpage, the DME explains why it is important to incorporate diversity in a faith-based community.

“In God’s Kingdom, the intersection of faith and diversity is multilayered. His love is big enough to encompass the many differences that make His world a better place in which to live, as these stories demonstrate,” the DME site said.

The resources cover 14 different issues, including topics dealing with disability and chronic illness, the military, first-generation students and immigrants.

Jeff Yeom, a graduate student and Undergraduate Admissions staff member, shared his story about diversity, faith and forgiveness in his video. His father was shot due to someone else’s addiction, and he spoke about his struggle to forgive, and what he learned about how to view people regardless of what they’ve done.

“As years passed, I learned about the broken systems in our country and I got really mad. [Me and the man who got my dad shot] are both victims,” Yeom said. “One has fallen victim to American society, and me getting the repercussions of that negative cycle. So I wanted to talk about the fact that no matter how we look or where we come from, there are systems in place that force people to do or resort to certain things to be able to fend for themselves. Part of my story is how can we view prisoners and inmates differently, because they’re often in their as a result of social factors.”

Yeom said he was excited when he heard about the DME.

“When Dr. Bledsoe asked me to make a video after hearing my story, he told me about the DME, I got fired up,” Yeom said. “I said If it’s going to change the way that we view people, then of course I want to help and be involved.”

At the event, Bledsoe showed three of the videos and then interviewed the people from the video on the stage.The first video shown at the event was of President Jon Wallace.

“Those of us in privileged positions need to make room at the table for others and pull up chairs, or even push their own chairs back so that those voices will be first in line, not ours. There will be a day when eternity begins and…we will finally understand the beauty and diversity of his Creation. I would like to see that on this side of eternity,” Wallace said in the video.

During the interview, Bledsoe asked Wallace what he thought diversity would look like in the future at APU. Wallace spoke highly Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, a professor at North Park Theological Seminary who gave a message at an APU chapel recently.

In his message, Soong-Chan said that institutions that don’t understand the nature of diversity will collapse. He also said that God’s people never have the option of running away and hiding when they see someone struggling.

“[Soong-Chan’s message] is one of the most challenging statements on the evangelical community and diversity. Where we want to be is reflective of the greater culture and the servant outcome of what our nation and community will become. APU must be reflective of that diversity if we are to have a place in that [community],” Wallace said.

Andrew Boyd, a senior applied exercise science major, urged attendees to reach out to fellow community members that look different from us and start learning more about them.

“I think if we look at Scripture we can’t escape the fact that this was vital. In Scripture often times you’ll see someone named and then right after their place of origin was named, like in Paul’s writings. Reaching out and developing that community is just a small piece of the puzzle that could be very essential to reconciliation at APU,” Boyd said in his video.

Another key piece to the puzzle is the diversity resources the DME provides on their website. In addition to the videos, under each section there are links to documents on how to conduct conversations like these in classrooms.

Stefanie Fenwick explained that the discussion resources were based on the “4-A learning sequence.” The four As remind people to anchor the content with the learner’s experience, add new information, think of applications, and find something to take away from the exercise.  

Bledsoe provided time during the program for attendees to use 4-A learning sequence to share their stories and experiences with one another.

In attendance were Dawn Edgerly and Marty Gage, both graduate students in the Educational and Clinical Counseling program at APU and both teachers at Serrano High School.

“APU seems like it’s been getting a little more conscious about promoting diversity this year. There’s always a little segment in our classes on incorporating that in, which is helpful because of the nature of our major,” Gage.

The Student Center for Reconciliation and Diversity (SCRD) and the DME will continue to host events to promote diversity on campus. The next event, Conversation 2.0 for Christian Higher Education on Sexual Gender Identity, takes place on Thursday, March 1 at 3 p.m.

“This topic is incredibly important because in our school, the demographic is very diverse,” Edgerly said. “I need to understand what I can do to relate to my students and to celebrate that diversity.”