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The Urban Community Magazine | Fall 2010
Feature Stories
I Am Project

When you scan through the I Am Project photos, you immediately uncover a deeper level of diversity among Urban's community of students and adults. Beyond racial or ethnic diversity, the photos present differences expressed through comments about language, background, education, sexual orientation, physical appearance, thoughts and feelings.

The I Am Project was conceived by a small group of faculty and students from Urban’s Multicultural Club ("Multiculti" as they tag themselves!). "As part of our annual January Month of Understanding, MultiCulti was promoting a schoolwide art project that all students could participate in," said Urban's Dean of Multicultural Life Ken Garcia-Gonzales. "We wanted to give our community an opportunity to explore this year's theme, which was Making the Invisible, Visible. We needed to find a way for students to say what they needed to say; to break the silence. We felt this photo project would surface some underlying issues among students and adults, as well as challenge stereotypes and assumptions, and spark conversation and dialogue."

Elly F-O ('12) was instrumental in taking the photographs (see a sampling of the images below), along with Virgil T ('11) who consulted on the technical aspects. Overseeing the project was Garcia-Gonzales, as well as Kelli Yon, Urban's photography and media literacy teacher. The large-scale photos have been hanging in one of Urban’s main hall gallery spaces, where they attract a great deal of attention from the community and from visitors.

According to Elly, "This project helped shed light on other ways of being diverse at Urban. Everyone has something that makes them different. Seeing photos of your friends, classmates and teachers helped make the conversation more real and less superficial."

In addition to the student work, Garcia-Gonzales took the project to Urban's Parent/Guardian Diversity Committee. Attendees at a monthly meeting were asked to model their comments on the same prompts that the students used. Some of the examples shared among the parent community included:
  • Just because I am a lawyer doesn't mean that I am not friendly and nice.
  • Just because I speak with an accent doesn't mean I am less educated than you.
  • Just because I am a woman doesn't mean that I am weaker than you.
For more information about Urban's active Diversity and Inclusion program, please visit our website.

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