Diversity

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A group of students in the Des Moines Public Schools are using art and poetry to address some of the nation’s most divisive social issues, such as racial divisions and immigrant rights. It’s in a course called Urban Leadership.

Sixteen-year old Jalesha Johnson has collected her thoughts on the plight of refugees in the form of a poem.

“This is us living the American dream.". she reads. "This is every migrant who never woke up, I wonder if the ships start sinking because they can’t hold all of that hope .”

Joyce Russell/IPR

Several Republican candidates for president are vying for the votes of Christian conservatives who make up a significant percentage of Republican caucusgoers.    There’s a subset of the evangelical vote that’s especially coveted, and that’s homeschoolers.  

If you attract a homeschool parent to your side you may get the whole family to knock on doors and put up yard signs.  

On a recent Saturday, with beautiful fall weather outside, Kaylee Morris was inside staffing the phone bank at the Ted Cruz for President campaign headquarters in Urbandale

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

The 16th Annual White Eagle Pow Wow will be staged this weekend on land just south of Interstate 80 near Waukee. The man behind the event calls it the only multicultural Pow Wow in the world.

 

On a football Saturday afternoon in a suburban West Des Moines neighborhood of single family homes, the air is filled with incongruous music.

 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

An associate professor at Simpson College is spreading the word about the many types of religious beliefs found in Iowa. She's trying to defuse tensions among faiths that occasionally lead to violence and, during the last session of the Iowa Legislature, resulted in lawmakers boycotting a prayer from a Wiccan priestess.  

Maeve Callan is first-generation Irish-American, and raised Catholic until she was around 15. That’s when she started reading European history and learning about the Holocaust, which left her struggling with a difficult question.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

One of the so-called "Lost Boys of Sudan" is living in Storm Lake, but his heart remains in his homeland. He is dedicated to drawing attention to and raising money for children orphaned by civil war.

http://www.roaringlion.info

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

 The six members of the band known as Chaotic Inquisition are in rehearsal.

They are polishing an original tune for a studio recording session and a concert, which will conclude the two weeks of Girls Rock Des Moines. The camp aims to build confidence in young women ages ten-to-16, and to encourage more of them to pursue music. The founder and executive director of the camp, Rae Fehring, says she was struck by an observation she made while lingering in a store testing instruments.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Examples of public art are appearing across Iowa in parks, on street corners, and in the lobbies of office buildings. Sculptor Bounnak Thammavong has been commissioned to create a piece that will be seen by thousands of travelers passing through the Des Moines International Airport.

On a late spring afternoon, Thammavong melts aluminum using a welding torch in his garage-turned-studio behind his house in Swisher.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

 Two runners are nearing the finish line on a goal to complete a full, 26-point-two mile marathon in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

On the way to Corning in the southwest part of the state, 49-year-old Dennis Lee stops at a sandwich shop to load up for a long run into a strong head wind.

“I’ll have a foot-long sausage, egg and cheese on flat bread,” he orders

The temperature is unusually cold for early May, and there’s a threat of thunderstorms, so Lee knows he’ll need energy.

“Typically we burn about 35-hundred calories during the run,” he says.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Short poems, essays and pieces of fiction are going on display at 13 libraries across the state. It's a project designed to connect the public to literature from a collective of artists known as Grin City.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

  Iowa Writers Workshop graduate Tim Bascom was 16 years old when his parents decided to return to Ethiopia where they had served a previous mission. It was 1977. The country was in turmoil, emperor Haile Selassie booted from power, a Marxist revolution in progress. Bascom says he needed to document the experience of living through this revolt to understand how it shaped his young life.

Jane Kettering, St. Ambrose University

    There is a Middle East Institute on the campus of St. Ambrose University in Davenport.

The immediate question that comes to mind is why a Catholic University in the middle of America has created an academic institute focused on the Arab world.

John Pemble, Iowa Public Radio

The 2015 Iowa Teacher of the Year is a middle school Spanish teacher from Ecuador, who is on a mission to introduce more multiculturalism into classrooms.

Woodward Academy

Iowa high school sports history is being made this week at the boys’ state basketball tournament in Des Moines. For the first time, a school for delinquent young men is competing.

University of Iowa Law School

The nation has spent the past month honoring black history. Part of that past includes the lingering disparities between blacks and whites in the U.S.

Rob Dillard

Dan and Diane Folkers gave up their middle-class lives to move to the remote mountains of Papua New Guinea more than two years ago.

Rob Dillard

Clemen Wilcox counts how long she’s lived in the Midwest by the number of winters, not years. This is her 13th.

Rob Dillard

Sarai Tillinghast is encouraging minority students to become teachers in Des Moines. She shares moments from her own meaningful career to convince them to join the ranks. Here's the story of the project known as Dream to Teach.

Rob Dillard

It’s time for Arabic class at Central Academy on the west edge of downtown Des Moines. Today’s lesson: naming the seasons of the year.

Rob Dillard

A newly redesigned building sits on a heavily traveled stretch of road in Windsor Heights, a Des Moines suburb.  GiGi's Playhouse is a lively spot where people with Down syndrome gain self-confidence.


Ngwah-Mbo Nana Nkweti

Writer Ngwah-Mbo Nana Nkweti injects her Cameroonian heritage into stories about people who share her same multicultural background.

University of Northern Iowa

Two Waterloo-area residents are in the midst of producing a series of five documentaries that chronicle the history of the city. The filmmakers are focusing their camera on a few locations that are key to Waterloo’s past.

Iowa Department of Public Health

A doctor on loan to the Iowa Department of Public Health is back in the state after a stint in Sierra Leone. The native of Nepal was there to track the ebola outbreak in West Africa. 

Rob Dillard

When the Iowa Department for the Blind threw a party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of White Cane Day, it called on a former client to provide entertainment. 

Photo extracted from a Dove Program poster circulated on the White Earth Indian Reservation.

The recipient of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation’s highest honor is being recognized for her environmental work while serving on the Jasper County Conservation Board and elsewhere. The Newton woman credits her Native American heritage for instilling a love of Mother Earth.

Credit: Grinnell College

Grinnell College President Dr. Raynard Kington leads one of the nation’s most selective, academically challenging institutions of higher learning. He uses his family’s oppressed past to introduce social justice issues to students.

Rob Dillard

  Midwest-based hybrid seed giant Dupont-Pioneer, which has offices worldwide, employs someone called

   an Organizational Vibrancy Champion. In other words, she’s in charge of diversity.

“An organization becomes more vibrant when you have diversity inclusion, when you have employee engagement.”

Claudia Schabel

  holds the job on the sprawling campus of Dupont-Pioneer in Johnston. She’s nearly ideal for the job. Half of her character was shaped next to her twin sister in South America.

“I grew up in Capinas, Sao Paolo in Brazil,” she said

Rob Dillard

Li Zhao Mandelbaum comes from a nation of more than one-point-three-billion people. So the concept of small is relative.

“I often introduce myself, I’m from Nanning, a small city in China, and people will say OK tell me the population, and I will say well, we have about six million population,” she said.

Her hometown is about an hour’s flight west of Hong Kong near China’s border with Vietnam. It’s known for its lush greenery and hilly terrain. But despite its beauty, it wasn’t enough for the adventurous, young Li Zhao.

Rob Dillard

A few dozen of Central Iowa’s high-tech brain trust are pouring beers and munching tacos on the fifth floor of a downtown Des Moines office building.

They’ve come together a few days before the lights go out on a business incubator that became the centerpiece for an area known as Silicon Sixth.

They exchange pleasantries with the two men at the heart of Startup City Des Moines – Christian Renaud and Tej Dhawan.

Before the party began, Dhawan sat in a remote conference room and reflected on what he was looking to accomplish for high-tech firms in Central Iowa.

Rob Dillard

The marching band’s drum-line sets the tone for the first day of classes at Marshalltown High School.

Sixteen-hundred students fill the football-field bleachers as the school’s principal – Aiddy Phomvisay  – grabs a mike.

“If I could have your attention for less than five minutes," he announced. "I know that’s amazing that Mr. Phomvisay is only going to take five minutes to address the student body.”

Rob Dillard

Her name is Salome Nengean – born in the northwest Iowa town of Sioux Center – raised in Nigeria. She’s 29 now and, with her husband, frequently travels to the place of her youth where her mother still lives. She says during one of these trips in 2011.

“We happened to meet two kids, who were living with an elderly woman, and somehow they just caught our attention," she said. "There was just something cute about them, there were other kids, but they would just separate from the rest of the group and sit together.”

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