Poetry Slam Explores Cultural Diversity

Hanley-Tejeda performing

By Denzel Apangchan

Open-mic poetry slam ignited cultural expression during International Education Week on campus.

College of Southern Nevada hosted the slam at North Las Vegas campus mid-November that gave a stage to students, community members and a professor.

This year was the first time a poetry slam was included in the week’s roster according to Elizabeth Larakers, event coordinator of CSN’s 2017 International Education Week and English instructor.

“For that we have to thank my colleague David Hanley-Tejeda,” Larakers said. “He is the one who put this all together. It is a really wonderful event. I would love to have it again next year.”

International Education Week had several events on Charleston and North Las Vegas campuses. The film “Food Chains” was featured, which focused on the Florida hunger strike at the headquarters of Publix Super Markets to protest poor wages and working conditions. Other events such as “What Happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” “The Lesser Known Georgia” and “Unknown Story of Coffee” provided an opportunity to educate students on these topics and offer places for discussion. Additionally international dance and food forums were hosted.

Hanley-Tejeda, the head of the open-mic poetry slam and communication instructor, shared his thoughts on why an open-mic poetry slam was relevant to International Education Week.

“We are a very diverse and global campus,” Hanley-Tejeda said. “A lot of our people have stories related to their cultures and cultural identities.” He elaborated how hosting such an event creates an experience for students while granting them a platform to share their stories through the arts.

“We had a great turnout,” Hanley-Tejeda said. By the end of the day 11 individuals participated in the open mic: eight CSN students, one community professional, one featured artist and one professor, which was Hanley-Tejeda himself. One student read a poem about female beauty, another dedicated a poem to her mother and two of them even sang songs.

Hanley-Tejeda passionately started off the poetry slam with a poem dedicated to the inclusivity of people of all races. One memorable line was “Remember, pedigree thinking sliced and diced humanity.”

Claire Petrichor, president of CSN’s Creative Writing Club, was one of the participating students. According to her, “Poetry is important because it is a way for people to express themselves. It is a way for people to connect with each other. It is a way for different worldviews, viewpoints, and life experiences to be expressed in an artistic and beautiful way.”

“Every year we celebrate International Education Week…to bring awareness to the international aspects of [CSN’s] education system,” said Ashton Ridley, manager of the Office of Inclusive Learning and Engagement. “At CSN we have a large population of international students…so this is an opportunity for our Office to help celebrate [their] different cultures and different aspects of globalization as we know it today.”

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