Adelle DeMasi (Admissions) and student Eli Kambale at the CSU Chico Diversity Summit
After reading “Diversity Academy 2011 Reflections,” which was posted earlier in this blog, Adelle DeMasi (Admissions) sent me the following post, her reflection on her experiences during the 2010 Diversity Summit for Chico State students. Adelle shared, “[the Diversity Summit] was the single most wonderful experience I had in all [my] days on campus. It absolutely changed me.” Upon her arrival home, she recalls, “it was late and I was still high off the experience, so tired, so euphoric. I remember feeling the need to write about it.” At 10:45 p.m., Adelle fired offed this electronic epistle to her peers who had participated in the 2012 faculty and staff Diversity Summit. Her reflections are reposted here in their entirety.
I am fresh off the Student Diversity Summit held this weekend in Nevada City. Same place–much different agenda. Some of us who attended the faculty/staff summit went as Mentors this time: myself, Kelly Lough (University Housing & Food Service), Brooke Magnotta (WREC), James Luyirika-Sweagudde, Jr. (Office of International Education) and Anita Washburn (Staff Human Resource Services) joined Caren Fernandez (Associate Director Student Support Services Program) and Amy Hormann’s husband (successful & awesome CSUC alumni not to mention one heck of a Zumba guy). Together, we supported the students attending this year’s summit.
It was amazing; this year’s student summit registration filled up in TWO DAYS. CC Carter, Amy Hormann and Crystal Tonga along with the entire CCLC staff deserve a huge congratulations for pulling off another successful event, one that I can say for a fact was life changing for many of us in attendance.
We broke off into families again just as we did in the faculty/staff Diversity Summit and the role of Mentor was side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder participation with the students. We were there as part of the team but also to show campus support. We did what the students did. So yes, we had to step out of our comfort zone and go through the same physical and mental exercises as they did. While I brought back my own black & blue trophies earned from going over “the wall” (this huge, nasty wooden wall thing unattainable without the help of others), they in no way shape or form compare to the heartfelt success earned by the students who also made it over. They never thought it was possible, they never thought they could do it. But they were sure willing to give it a go. Tears, sheer freight, determination, lots of talk, encouragement and utter teamwork got EVERYONE over that darn thing. It showed that they were not alone, that with others’ help, they could conquer any obstacle.
This osteoporotic elder was able to shizzle her buttizzle – oh yea I rapped. And I was gooood. I represented. Yet while there were lots of laughs (never before had I seen anyone stuff 56 grapes in their mouth at once), there were also plenty of moments. CC and his crew took us through our paces… exercises that brought both student differences and similarities to the forefront. Discussions that ensued made those who felt alone aware of others who shared the same helpless pain. Situations came up that quite honestly blew me away. I kept thinking our students are much, much too young to be experiencing the life experiences that they are.
At one point, the pain of everyone in the entire summit room was one of the most palpable sensations I have ever experienced. I can’t even start to explain what it was like to be in there. Overwhelming is an understatement. The cathartic release of emotions, life experiences, realizations and pure anguish welling from our students was beyond belief. But they shared and opened up because they felt safe. Their honesty was pure and commendable. It was going on midnight and the group was physically and mentally exhausted by this point. They just needed to breathe. Someone plugged an IPod into the speaker system and instant celebration erupted in music, laughter and happy faces. Brooke guided everyone through a wild crazy pulsing group Zumba dance. People were going nuts. It was joyous, it was fabulous and it was Chico at its very best.
This summit allowed for us to get to know our students as individuals, each with their own unique life experiences. I am very thankful that our university recognizes this and provides faculty and staff the opportunity to refresh and nurture this relationship. Again, thank you to all who helped make this weekend the success that it was. You are changing lives and doing an incredible job contributing to a safe and inclusive campus community.
I’m exhausted! It’s off to bed and a good night’s sleep.
Take care all,