Kathryn Brooks has been director of the Women's Resource Center at the University of Utah for a year. She sees a rhythm to her work.
"The Sack Lunch Seminars and the Lunch With A Lawyer series are the backbone of the Women's Resource Center programs," she says. The free discussions are held on Tuesdays at noon and Wednesdays at noon, respectively, in the WRC, Olpin Union Building.Brooks says, "They are our showcases, the place we dispense new information and the place we give the same information over and over for people who need it. Like divorce information, psychological information."
She wants to see a rhythm in the cycle of the noontime discussions. "For example, during winter quarter, I want to see that the speakers reflect black awareness during February (around Martin Luther King's birthday) and women's history during March (which is women's history month).
Brooks says she wants to use national holidays to stimulate discussion on her own campus.
She adds, "I really insist that we reflect diversity both in terms of ethnicity and experience. Some speakers will be people who have always worked at the university. I want other speakers to be politicians, volunteers, people with community experience."
The coordinator for Asian American Studies at the university, Haruko Moriyasu, concluded the Sack Lunch Seminars for fall quarter this week. She explored ways in which Asian women bridge the cultural gap between their country and America.
Her speech was announced on the International Studies calendar, which makes her laugh, she says. "This is not an international issue, this is an American issue."
The calendar entry just illustrates that no matter how long Asians live in the United States, Moriyasu says, they are seen as Asian first, American second.
Her son had a substitute teacher tell him she would visit his "homeland" during the summer. The boy, who was born in Utah, told her she wouldn't have to go far.
"If you are Asian, you are foreign," Moriyasu says. There will always be people who don't consider you a full American. "So we must be strong in our own area. That way we can fit in with the majority."
Moriyasu says Asian cultures - there are 26 distinct Asian peoples - haven't been studied enough or valued enough for their contributions to America. But if Asians as a whole aren't studied enough, Asian women aren't studied at all.
"I only know of one anthology about the Asian experience," she says, holding up a copy of "Making Waves," published by Beacon Press.
Not only do white Americans need to learn more about Asian cultures, she says, Asian people need to understand their own cultures, to decide what they value, what they want to carry forward to the next generation.
When families immigrate to the United States, Moriyasu says, it is the women who pass important Asian traditions to the children. Women, too, help the children bridge the gap to the new culture.
Moriyasu, herself a second generation Japanese-American, says her mother saw to it that she went to language school, heard Japanese stories, saw Japanese movies, had a kimono, learned traditional dances and crafts and went to the Buddhist Church.
"At the same time we had comic books, sandwiches - we got the variety of experiences.
"My mother was one of the first Japanese women to learn to drive a car, in 1939."
Brooks says, "Haruko Moriyasu is very important in terms of getting an Asian American studies program started. She's also particularly supportive of preservation of Asian historical sites here in Utah."
At the Women's Resource Center, Brooks says, Utahns will regularly hear speakers from a variety of backgrounds, people like Moriyasu, who legitimatize the diversity of our heritage.