WSU Vancouver recognizes the significance of holding space to affirm the complexities of identities and celebrate the richness of cultural heritages, as well as the importance of examining and naming the ways that underrepresented communities have been targeted in society, both historically and presently. Heritage months are important in providing intentional space for this sort of teaching, learning and reflection. Heritage months require willingness to be present to receive these histories and acknowledge the many contributions to U.S. and world history, culture, education, arts, politics, science, social justice and daily life made by fellow human beings in the face of intersecting barriers and systems of oppression.
The university invites community members to learn about these histories during heritage months, and to examine and engage a series of critical questions:
- How are identities and cultures framed by society?
- Why are certain identities and cultures targeted and marginalized?
- What have I been taught about cultures that are different from mine?
- How do I interact with people who have different cultural heritages from mine?
- What responsibility do I have to learn about cultural heritages that are different from mine?
- How can I challenge the status quo and become a change agent of equity and empowerment?
Heritage months challenge stereotypical notions of what is “American” identity and who is/is not included within that identity. Heritage months are also a reminder to celebrate the strengths, beauty and successes of cultural heritages and multiple identities. WSU Vancouver does not relegate any cultural heritage to only a single month. Rather, the university acknowledges and appreciates cultural heritages every day, especially historically underrepresented cultural heritages. This deliberate practice facilitates the university's intentional commitment to infusing equity-mindedness, cultural responsiveness and inclusive excellence throughout the campus fabric. Heritage months are essential to WSU Vancouver's strategic effort to build a community of equity where students, faculty and staff feel a sense of value, belonging and opportunity to thrive.