Community Partnerships Highlight Culture and Diversity

by Rebecca Zisch

Image: Guy playing guitarSince opening in 2002, Nevada State College has aimed to extend educational and cultural opportunities beyond its campus by combining efforts with other organizations. According to Dr. Rene Cantu, Vice President of Multicultural Affairs, there has always been an emphasis on collaboration as a way of highlighting NSC as a campus that is open to the community. In fact, during Nevada State College's recent site visit from a team representing the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), the College received particular commendation for its successful community partnerships with other educational and cultural institutions.

Image: Yellow dress
Academically, NSC partners with CSN, Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno and Western Nevada College in Carson City to offer seamless opportunities for students to earn bachelor degrees. There are also partnership programs with two universities in Mexico, Ibero-American University and CETYS University.

With events like the Talent Discovery Program, encouraging students to go on to college, the Clark County School District is one of Nevada State College's most frequent partners, especially in the District's east region.

Image: Native dancerCulturally, the NSC Heritage Center is collaborating regularly with the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) and UNLV to plan and promote events to celebrate diversity, such as lectures, presentations and art exhibits. This includes inviting guest speakers from community agencies to give presentations on current and issues as part of events series like Hispanic Heritage Month and Women's History Month. Already this semester there have been events involving experts and performers from Nevada, California and Florida.

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This fall has also seen the debut of the NSC SOFA Series, a calendar of arts and culture events which brings artists and musicians from the community to interact with audiences in the Great Hall at the Dawson building.

In addition to all of these exciting community partnerships, the relationship that Nevada State College has developed with the City of Henderson was specifically highlighted by the visiting team from NWCCU. With the Basic and Water campus just down the street from the Henderson Convention Center and Events Plaza, NSC has been able see its connection with the city grow through public events. For example, just recently the School of Nursing and the Heritage Center sponsored an event at the Henderson Convention Center on the topic of Transcultural Nursing. The event included a Healing Presence ceremony and a presentation by renowned Nursing theorist Dr. Marilyn Ray.

An especially fun event has garnered a lot of attention recently. On October 13, over 2500 people and 40 community participants gathered at the Henderson Events Plaza for the inaugural Henderson Festival of Cultures. The all day event, co-sponsored by Nevada State College and the City of Henderson's Department of Cultural Arts and Tourism, celebrated the heritage of the population of Henderson through the art, music, dance and food of the many countries where we come from.

Image: two girls dancingIn 2005 and 2006, Nevada State College hosted the Scorpion Heritage Festival. But after last year's event, Dr. Rene Cantu had the idea to expand the festival to include the entire city. He contacted Sally Ahlstedt, program coordinator with the Henderson Department of Cultural Arts and Tourism, and together they built a committee and pooled resources. The result brought the community together with an event that surpassed what either group could have done on its own.

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When scheduling the entertainment, Dr. Cantu said the committee looked for an authentic expression of Henderson's culture that showcased local talent and local groups. The result was an array of exhibits and performances from over 40 groups representing cultures from around the world, including Mexico, Ireland, Hawaii, Peru, Thailand, Egypt, Ukraine, Spain and Japan.

Attendees were treated to a wide range of traditional dance, music and even demonstrations of traditional arts, like Navajo weaving and Farsi calligraphy. There was also a special crafts area where children and families could learn to make Japanese origami, Hawaiian leis and Mexican paper flowers.

Image: Looking at the stageLee's Discount Liquor hosted a Beers of the World Garden, the proceeds from which were donated to Lee's Helping Hands, which funds several local charities, and the Nevada State College Heritage Center, to further support programs and events that promote heritage and diversity.

The success of the 2007 Henderson Festival of Cultures illustrates how partnering can be the basis of positive growth and communication in any community. It is also representative of the growing partnership between Nevada State College and the City of Henderson. Dr. Cantu says he is looking forward to continuing this as a tradition and making it even bigger next year. It is likely that the Henderson Festival of Cultures will evolve into an annual event that everyone can look forward to.
For more information on Nevada State College, call: 702.992.2000 or visit: nsc.edu.
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