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Intercultural Education

May 27, 1993

On behalf of Mount St. Mary's College (MSMC), Los Angeles, one of the three women's colleges in the Western U.S., I would like to concur with Karen Grigsby Bates. Integrating the study of the lives and work of racial and ethnic minorities and women into the daily curricula of America's colleges and universities is the best educational option ("The Price and Timing of the Ticket," Commentary, May 19).

Mount St. Mary's College began exploring the subject of intercultural education more than 12 years ago. At that time, we thought our job would be to teach Anglo faculty members and students about the cultures of Latinos, African-Americans and Asians. We quickly discovered, however, that students in every ethnic group were ignorant about the cultures and traditions of other peoples and sometimes, of their own culture as well. We learned that we must teach our students the common story, which all Americans share, and simultaneously, we must give them voices to tell their own stories and ears to hear the stories of others.

We have come to this conclusion through our work with a diverse student body. Our ethnic distribution of 10% African-, 35% Anglo-, 15% Asian-, and 40% Hispanic-American is closely aligned with the diverse population of greater Los Angeles. We are currently documenting the value of an integrated curriculum in a series of instructional videos which demonstrate techniques that have proven successful at MSMC.

During our recent commencement ceremony, our speaker, Monica Lozano, editor of La Opinion, reiterated our philosophy when she told our graduates, "You must work to build bridges. Latinos can't focus solely on Latino issues, nor African-Americans on African-American issues, and so on. We all move together, or we do not move forward at all."

Working together, we can develop programs of intercultural education that provide a richer, truer, more meaningful education for all of our students, not merely programs that are politically correct.

SISTER KAREN KENNELLY

President, Mount St. Mary's College

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