Commitment to Diversity

I commit to promoting diversity in all aspects of my life and work.  One of the stories I love the most about diversity comes from the creation of the Apple computer.  Steve Jobs gathered together a diverse group of people, from all walks of life and all careers.  This was his mandate -- that the computer be both useful and beautiful.  In order to have something truly functional and beautiful, much diverse opinion and action needs to go into it.  


This metaphor can be extended to all areas.  For example, when I teach in the Entrada program, which Calvin began 25 years ago, the classes are some of the most diverse I've had the opportunity to enjoy leading.  And these classes are magnificent because the more diversity in the room, all the more interesting learning environments they become, where students challenge one another and help one another to see and feel empathy toward different perspectives.


In addition, when I choose WHAT to teach, I make certain that I am choosing  diverse material from around the globe and underrepresented voices here where I live.  And when I choose what to MAKE and who to work with, I choose diverse people, diverse material.  Directing gives many choices in this regard and I always want to challenge myself on every front.  I know that there is a crisis of representation in the theatre and media, as well as in writing and technology, and I don't believe this is right.  I believe we all have the right to see and hear many kinds of stories, to see and hear from many kinds of minds.  


Growing up and working in West Africa has changed me so much and I want all people to experience and know the vast literatures and performances that exist in side of us.  Truly, I believe that if we understood one another better, conneted more through art, performance, literature and sharing of these things, this world would be a better place.  Because of this belief, I dedicate my life's work to this cause.


Courses Taught that Demonstrate Diversity Initiatives


  • Performance Studies (engaging students in community projects that promote racial healing)


  • Applied Theatre (specifically theatre for social justice focusing on advocacy)


  • World Theatre History (Indigenous Peoples, African, Asian, South American, Island Peoples)


  • Communication and Culture (focusing on race, class, gender and sexual identity)


Specific Diversity Initiatives in Creative Scholarly Work



  • Lines explored and continues to explore issues of race and ethnicity in the city of Grand Rapids


  • Grains of Hope explored the lives of refugees in West Michigan.  Grand Rapids is the #5 city in the U.S. for refugee resettlement.



  • Check Your Privilege at Western Michigan University, worked diligently with a diverse group of students to study and create a piece of theatre about issues of diversity and inclusion at the University.


Program Development for Creating and Maintaining Diversity


  • 20 years of teaching and working with the ENTRADA program at Calvin College


  • Creation of "ADAPT. theatre that changes" (website coming soon), an equity and educational theatre company dedicated to social justice and diversity.