Heartland Community College

Local Educators Emphasize Commitment to NIOTBN Goals

Education – of the public, of youth, of policymakers and officials – is key to eliminating bigotry, discrimination, and bullying. In conjunction with the Feb. 2 Solidarity Rally in Bloomington, local educators offered their support for NIOTBN and Not In Our School and their commitment to diversity, inclusion, and community security.

Unit 5

The Unit 5 Board of Education, together with students and faculty across our district and the community, resolve to stand up against bullying and intolerance and actively work to make our schools free from discrimination and hatred. 

We promote safety, inclusion, and acceptance in each and every building. Unit 5 students and staff members come from a variety of different backgrounds and speak more than 40 different languages. That diversity enhances the culture throughout the district. Regardless of background, we strive to educate each of our students to achieve personal excellence. 

Unit 5 enjoys an excellent relationship with Not in Our Town and hosts several Not in our School chapters, and will continue to build on that relationship.

District 87

District 87 supports the mission of Not In Our Town to work together to stop hate, bullying, and build safe, inclusive environments for all.  Part of our mission states that we will promote mutual respect and have an appreciation for student and staff diversity. 

As the most diverse pre-K through 12 district in McLean County, we take pride in our diversity and see it as a strength of the community.  We stand together with Not In Our Town to support students from all backgrounds.

Regional Office of Education No. 17

The Regional Office of Education No. 17 partners with many advocacy groups, including Not in Our Schools, to deliver the message that diversity, tolerance and safety for all of our students and staff in the school districts we serve is paramount.

We support efforts to promote acceptance and eliminate discrimination and bullying and will continue to do so.

Illinois Wesleyan University

Illinois Wesleyan University remains strongly committed to providing a supportive environment in which each of our students can become confident, participatory members of a global society.

We define ourselves as a diverse, inclusive and welcoming campus, with the understanding that education in the context of diversity – whether diversity of nationality, race, religion or thought – creates the richest learning environment. We respect and value our fellow students, educators and staff across geographic and cultural boundaries, and stand with institutions of higher learning throughout the country in insisting that it is critical that the United States continues to welcome scholars of all backgrounds and nationalities.

Heartland Community College

Heartland Community College is committed to being a welcoming and inclusive institution where all students, employees, and visitors are regarded with respect and dignity in a safe and secure environment.

As expressed by longstanding Policy, Heartland Community College provides equal educational opportunities to all students and equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, marital status, status as a veteran, or any other protected status under federal, state or local laws.

Existing Policy further states that the College expressly prohibits any form of harassment in the learning and working environment, including but not limited to, sexual harassment and harassment based on any status or condition protected by applicable law, rule or regulation.

Empowerment Institute Sept. 19 at Heartland

Early bird registration is now open for With My Girls Empowerment Institute, a network/education program designed to help women "move your goals and dreams forward" Sept. 19 at Heartland Community College.

The theme is Getting Started: Taking the First Step Today for a Better Tomorrow. The program will include sessions on four issues: Career and Entrepreneurship. Health and Quality of Life. Financial Empowerment. and Overall Self-Awareness and Self-Management

Individual tickets are $20 for students and $45 for non-students. Sponsors include McLean County YWCA, Illinois State University, and Soroptimist International Bloomington-Normal.

For information or to register, visit www.withmygirls.com/empowerment.

McLean County Hosts Sexual Assault Awareness Month Events

The month's local observances began last Thursday with a Teal Ribbon Ceremony at Heartland Community College. Community members were invited to tie ribbons around the campus or paint a single fingernail teal to symbolize support for sexual assault survivors.

The Clothesline Project will be 5 to 7 p.m. April 8 at YWCA, 1201 N. Hershey Road. Assault survivors are invited to create shirts to be displayed on a clothesline; supplies will be provided. Shirts will be on display throughout April at Behind The Glass Fine Art Gallery and Studio, 315 N. Main St., Bloomington; Wednesday through April 9 at Heartland Community College; and April 10 at YWCA.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 18 at the McLean County Museum of History, 200 N. Main St. Goal of the event — featuring keynote speaker Steve Thompson, an expert on sexual assault and stalking — is to raise awareness about sexual violence and improve gender relationships and appreciation for women's experiences. Registration is $25 — $10 for students and seniors — and may be completed at www.ywcamclean.org.

Brave Miss World, a movie about rape and followed by a panel discussion, will be 6 to 8:30 p.m. April 21 at Illinois State University's Center for Visual Arts, Normal. The event is hosted by ISU's Graduate Organization of the School Psychology program.

Take Back the Night will be 6 to 8:30 p.m. April 28 at McLean County Museum of History. The event will include speakers, a rally, a 1½-mile walk through downtown Bloomington and a candlelight vigil.

MCLP Class of '15 graduates March 7

Five local organizations will get a boost towards their goals as the Multicultural Leadership Program (MCLP) Class of 2015 concludes its community service projects on Saturday, March 7 at Heartland Community College's Astroth Community Education Center Building (the second floor auditorium).

Beginning with a 7:30 a.m. continental breakfast, this public presentation is offered 8 to 10:45 a.m. Five MCLP teams will share how they put servant leadership into action, dedicating six months’ time and effort to help five local non-profit organizations achieve the following:

 Community Health Care Clinic — study the feasibility of a dental clinic and a five-year budget program

Immanuel Health Care — develop strategies to increase name recognition

Meadows at Mercy Creek — support staff development to enhance skills and better serve residents

Prairie Pride Coalition — assess LGBT community needs to help redefine goals and outreach

Challenger Learning Center — enhance fundraising efforts

Immediately following the project presentations, MCLP will offer an information session 11:00 AM to noon to share about future MCLP opportunities, including how to apply for the MCLP Class of 2016 program year. Local nonprofits interested to submit proposals for next year’s MCLP class projects may apply online at www.bn-mclp.org.

Radio Interviews Offer Previews of Team Experiences: Tune in to Susan Saunder’s show on WJBC AM 1230 every Friday at 10:05 a.m. through March 6th to hear interviews with the MCLP project teams; and to WXRJ’s Ursula Crooks’ “What’s Going On” show 12-2 p.m. on Saturdays through March on FM 94.9.

For more information, see www.bn-mclp.org or contact MCLP Executive Director, Sonya Mau at contactus@bn-mclp.org or call 309-556-3589.

Uma: Youth a Focus For India Association in 2015

When you speak of McLean County’s Indian “community,” you’re covering a wide swath – from Indian-American residents of long standing in the Twin Cities to university and college students to visa’ed workers and specialists in the U.S. seeking a community with which to temporarily share the cultures and traditions of their homeland. Bloomington-Normal is home to Indians representing a number of the subcontinent’s states and culturally diverse regions.

And Uma Kallakuri sees it as her mission to reach out and unite them all. Kallakuri is 2015 president of the McLean County India Association (MCIA), a group formed in the late ‘70s to support what she deemed a “handful” of Indian families across the cities. Now, McLean County is home to a reported 600-some families of Indian heritage, a new Hindu temple opened its doors last year at 1815 Tullamore Ave. in Bloomington, and a new priest was installed in December.

Members of McLean County's Indian community celebrate during "PARAMPARA - The Heritage," an Indian classical dance performance last February in Bloomington, featuring artists from Nrityamala Dance Academy.

Members of McLean County's Indian community celebrate during "PARAMPARA - The Heritage," an Indian classical dance performance last February in Bloomington, featuring artists from Nrityamala Dance Academy.

Kallakuri pledges to continue MCIA’s central goals of “bringing together the community and inspiring them to keep up their traditions and their roots, while at the same time helping them integrate into the community and give back to the community.” Kallakuri, a local classical Indian dance instructor and adjunct professor with Illinois Wesleyan University and, understands the need to keep fresh blood flowing through the community, and MCIA currently is focusing especially on younger members of the community.

That includes working to engage Illinois State and Wesleyan and, increasingly, Heartland Community College students in events and celebrations for the overall Indian community. Kallakuri hopes to foster a broader mentoring program offering youth the opportunity to develop professional and life skills and insights from established members of the community.

 “Youth are our future, and we want to create a platform for them so that we can keep working on understanding better and then work more on diversity,” she maintains. “We are trying to bring them all together.”

With State Farm, two hospitals, and two universities to a growing retail/restaurant sector, McLean County suffers no dearth of Indian mentors. Through her local Nrityamala Dance Academy (NDA), launched in 1984, Kallakuri has helped keep classical Indian dance vividly alive and provided cultural insights for the broad community through local performances that often have helped support causes such as the Community Cancer Center, Children's Hospital, Red Cross, Salvation Army, American Heart Association, and Hindu temples. The academy has contributed as well to Hurricane Katrina and Asian tsunami relief.

MCIA is co-sponsoring a marrow donor registration drive this Sunday, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Normal Community Building, 1110 Douglas Street, while NDA students will perform at 2 p.m. March 21 at the Hindu Temple of Bloomington-Normal.  

MCIA attempts to reach out to new members of the local Indian community, including temporary workers and employees, “to let them know there is a place they can call upon and come forward and connect with other Indians,” Kallakuri relates. MCIA also helps coordinate orientation/training sessions on the community for area businesses and agencies, and offers cultural education for area schools. Kallakuri points out that while many Twin Citians may be aware of the fall festival of Diwali, they may be unaware of Indian New Year, celebrated in March or April. The annual Festival of India, held on the ISU quad each September, offers a glimpse of Indian regional cultures, art, food, and folkways. While there are often significant differences in observances and customs across the various Indian states, MCIA sponsors generalized seminars, celebrations, and other events designed to bridge all subcultures.

“We do come together, especially at the Festival of India,” Kallakuri said. “Everyone enjoys coming together and watching one another. Each state and each region has its own way of cooking, its own way of dressing, its own way of doing things. But basically, there’s the same idea behind it all.”

Kallakuri finds Bloomington-Normal “generally, a good place to live.” She has taught not only at Wesleyan and ISU but also at other regional universities and in surrounding towns, and has found her fellow Illinoisans generally “encouraging.”

“I’ve had good experiences here – I love this place,” she said.

For more information on the Indian Community and MCIA, visit http://ourmcia.org/.


Heartland Seeking Living 'Books' for March 24-25 Event

Most of us think we have a pretty good read on people. Heartland Community College is offering an opportunity for students to browse some fascinating new "Books" that beg to be explored beyond their covers.

Heartland's Human Library is a March 24-25 event that will offer a number of human "Books" for student checkout. The Books are people with experiences and beliefs outside the mainstream, including a "Queer Activist," a "Freegan," and a "Unitarian Universalist."

The Student and Book engage in a 20-minute conversation in what Heartland's Rachelle Stivers terms a "non-confrontational" environment. The idea is to encourage tolerance through open, one-on-one dialogue. Heartland is seeking additional volunteer Books for its "collection" -- visit heartland.libguides.com/humanlibrary for information.

"Anything that encourages thoughtfulness and tolerance in these rather divisive times is important," Stivers maintains. "The project also works well with one of the college’s 'Essential Competencies': Diversity (the other are Communication, Critical Thinking, and Problem Solving).

"ISU ran this same program for their First Year Experience students this fall, and it was very popular.  Our event is also limited to students, but if there is interest we will reassess that for future events."

The Human Library is an international initiative that began in Copenhagen, Denmark, with a youth organization called "Stop The Violence." The movement was initiatied by five friends after another was stabbed in 1993. New "libraries" recently were launched in The Philippines and Belarus.