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Multiculturalism: Embracing roots for cultural empowerment with Minué Yoshida

On October 3, Minué Yoshida, public speaker, author and founder of Yoshida Consulting, LLC, paid a visit to Queens College. She spoke about the significance of recognizing the importance of cultural diversity, taking strength from your own cultural traits and how her own experiences as a Japanese-Latin American have influenced her views on these topics and inspired her current career.

A variety of different QC students of different class standings, organizations and cultural backgrounds were in attendance. Some, such as a freshman named Zuairia Masud, were invited to the event by Project Excel, a peer mentoring and academic development program which hosts a multitude of workshops and other events revolving around similar topics. “They invited me to this event, and I know it’s [about] multiculturalism, so I want to learn about this Latina culture,” she said of the panel. “I get to meet new people, learn [about] new cultures,” Masud explained.

Yoshida spoke at length throughout the event about her own background, sharing anecdotes and lessons learned in regards to how her ethnic identity has affected her work and life. “My mother is third-generation Spaniard, and my father is Japanese,” she initially explained. “So they say that I’m from the Philippines!” The statement elicited some laughter from the audience, but it touched on an important aspect of her overall message in regard to ideas such as cultural inclusion, which she would continue to elaborate on over the course of the evening. Mistakes more or less serious than this can be made when people are ignorant toward the backgrounds of others. The speech stressed not only the importance of understanding where someone comes from, but also of being able to handle it with grace when your background makes you a target for someone else.

Throughout the night, attendees shared their own stories, and they were led through exercises meant to bring out the best methods to overcome obstacles such as preexisting notions or stereotyping about their cultures, and to find the advantages that their respective heritages and upbringings could give them in work and life. One such exercise involved coming up with cultural “weaknesses” attributed to them by others or themselves that could instead be portrayed or utilized as a strength. Another, similar in concept, concerned taking insults based on stereotypes and flipping them into statements of positivity about themselves. By the end of the event, attendees were each asked to come up with a “mission statement” for themselves regarding what they wanted their life’s purpose to be, with each person asked to stand and say theirs aloud.

Students in attendance were very enthusiastic about the event, which ultimately ended in several group photos taken with Yoshida, and they expressed a desire to see more of such events in the future. “I love the idea of multiculturalism,” said Carmine Couloute, senior and president of Student Association. “So anything that embodies the idea of multiculturalism, I would always love to see more of it, because it brings us all together as individuals of different backgrounds.” For other students who share this interest, both the Student Association and Project Excel are involved in and promote similar events to this one throughout each semester. Additionally, the book, “Today’s Inspired Latina” by Jackie Camacho-Ruiz – signed copies of which were available for attendees of the event free of charge – is available through Amazon.

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