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Stephens College professor creates diversity video for community celebration

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 | 6:07 p.m. CST; updated 9:53 p.m. CST, Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Ryan Johnson, 21, center, rehearses the African dance piece he choreographed for the Columbia Values Diversity Celebration on Wednesday. Johnson is part of the Stephens College dance department that will perform at the community event on Thursday. Jamie Andes, 21, left, is also pictured.

COLUMBIA — Stephens College assistant professor Dan Schultz has been collecting video clips of Columbia residents answering four questions related to diversity.

The clips have been compiled in a multimedia presentation for the 19th annual Columbia Values Diversity Celebration on Thursday.

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About 950 people are expected to gather for breakfast during the celebration that begins at 7 a.m. Thursday at the Holiday Inn Select Executive Center. The theme "One Community, Many Stories" centers on the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. In addition to the multimedia theatrical show, the program includes awards, music and dance performances.

Schultz, who is fascinated by the issue of diversity, gives the topic a personal touch with his interviews on the streets.

"I'm more interested in what everybody else thinks about diversity," Schultz said. "Sometimes I'd literally just walk up to people and talk to them."

The thoughts of 40 people in the 25-minute video collage, complemented by five local actors, are featured in the "One Community, Many Voices" video produced by Schultz in response to his four questions:

  • "What do you think Dr. King would say about the state of the world today?
  • What does diversity mean to you?
  • What is your favorite thing about living in Columbia?
  • What is your hope for the future of the city?"

To ensure that the people he interviewed were diverse, he worked with a committee for the event and spoke with an array of residents that included veterans, people with disabilities, blacks and Latinos.

Schultz said he found his results "surprising."

"We are more similar than we are different. We should value the differences among us and value what makes us unique and what makes us human," Schultz said.


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