A university is a place destined for learning, not only about subjects related to one’s major, but also about day-to-day worldly issues, communication, teamwork, problem solving, and much more. We are dedicated to making Texas Tech University-Costa Rica (TTU-CR) a campus where students from all around the world, feel safe enough to share their knowledge and experiences. This is how we can thrive as an academic institution and how students can become the professionals and individuals they aspire to be.
Because of this, last week, TTU-CR celebrated DIVERSITY WEEK for the first time. Texas Tech University in Lubbock, hosted DIVERSITY WEEK for the fourth time earlier in the month. This weeklong event allows students, faculty and sta to celebrate their backgrounds and appreciate the importance and value of individuality. We want our students to be open to change and embrace differences, promote a healthy society and help their peers communicate with people from different backgrounds. This will not only help them with their personal growth, but it will also strengthen their communities and facilitate their professional growth.
Initiating a conversation about diversity is a way for us to broaden our knowledge about tolerance, acceptance and respect. Listening to other people’s experiences and looking at their struggles from a different point of view, encourages us to develop a more accepting perspective of the differences among us.
TTU-CR believes in the importance of diversity, and that is why we have established our first student organization called the Diversity and Inclusion Raiders Association (DIRA). Our founding members are Virginia Portilla, Daniel Pacheco, Saira Williams, José Domingo Boschini, and David Arciniegas, all gender inclusion advocates, majoring in different branches of STEM.
DIVERSITY WEEK started with a celebration of culture. We decorated our campus with flags, pictures and artifacts representing the cultures on our campus. We also participated in an interactive activity during which students used movement, paint and drawings to demonstrate their personal expressions.
Virginia Portilla, 22, a first-year mathematics major, says one of the first things she planned to do when she started college was to become part of a student organization.
“I had seen in movies and TV shows that universities in the U.S. had student organizations, so when I first came here and they told us that we should think about forming a group, my first thought was to create one about diversity.”
As a university, we are proud to have a student organization that supports both cultural and gender diversity.
Not only does it inspire equality of thinking, it also establishes the idea of acceptance as a core value of this institution.
“Diversity for me means being inclusive and not discriminating,” said Saira Williams, 19. “It’s important because every time we learn about diversity, we begin to understand and respect different cultures, and we even look at these from a different perspective.”
To show our students and community how committed we are to reinforcing cultural and gender diversity, we celebrated Pride Day in the most colorful way possible. We surprised our students with multicolored decorations and countless balloons, and as an after-class activity, we hosted a Movie Night where students watched a documentary called Gaycation and took part in an interesting discussion with guest speaker and trans-activist, Victoria Rovira.
We celebrated the last day of DIVERSITY WEEK with a tremendous feast. As part of our cultural diversity project, students brought food from their native countries. We tasted dishes from 10 countries, including Mexico, the Netherlands, Guatemala, Colombia, Israel and Peru. Students decorated their stands and showed off their national delights; some even got creative and built their own stands and performed national dances.
As the university continues to grow and more students begin to fill our hallways, we would love to see more of you join DIRA, but also to have the initiative to create an organization of your own. In the coming months, DIRA plans to introduce the Allies Program, one that is already in action on the Lubbock campus.
This program aims to educate on LGBTQI issues as well as to provide support to students, faculty, and sta on related matters.
Students would also like to bring speakers to the University to talk about the usage of correct LGBTQI terminology. Some members feel that more common than not, people are unaware of their habit of using discriminatory language, therefore it’s important to educate our community on adequate words and phrases.
“A lot of the time, LGBTQI people feel no one has their back. They often feel lonely,” Portilla said. “With the Allies Program, we want them to know that if something happens, if they ever feel discriminated against, they can come to us for support.”
If you are an advocate of diversity of thinking, inclusion, and gender equality, Texas Tech-Costa Rica is a match for you. Come visit us and learn more about our upcoming events. We welcome you to become a diverse Raider!