By Jordan Collier
Marta Miranda, the newly appointed director of multicultural student affairs at Eastern, immigrated to America from Cuba at the age of 12. She left her rural home to live in Newark, N.J. Her neighborhood was poor but bustled with diversity. She grew up with African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Italians. At an early age she was learning things that would prove valuable to her later in life.
“We need each other,” Miranda said.
She works to spread this message with the new Cultural Center, located in the bottom floor of Powell.
The center opened at the end of last semester, and it serves as a resource for students on diversity issues like relations, gender studies, sexual assaults, and religion.
The questions she’s faced so far at the center include how to address a transgender person on whether or not they’ve had surgery, what to say to someone who doesn’t speak English very well, and how to deal with people who make racist, offensive, or sexually harassing comments.
Under Miranda’s direction, the center has recently started a group for single mothers called Mom-ME. The group allows single mothers to meet and support one another on campus.
Miranda also is working to resurrect MARS (Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault) in cooperation with Eastern fraternities. Another project she is spearheading is a Latino student group, which is something the campus doesn’t have right now.
Miranda said that one of the more interesting events she’s organized since becoming director was called “Dining Outside Your Comfort Zone.”
The event brought together people who don’t normally share a table, like janitors and deans of colleges. Participants were encouraged to ask cross-cultural questions that they may not have been comfortable asking under normal circumstances.
Miranda said she does all of this in order to break stereotypes.
She said everyone should feel like this is a safe place to learn, both academically and about each other.
Working to make that happen means her days are never typical. One day she may be speaking in a classroom or a seminar. The next she might be working to get a grant, promoting cultural awareness, or organizing sensitivity trainings.
“I don’t have a full plate,” Miranda said. “I have a full bucket.”
Miranda also manages to squeeze some hobbies into that bucket. She loves to cook, quilt, and even race kites.
She is a member of the Affrilachian Poets Society, a society for Appalachian writers of African lineage.
Miranda said the university needs to prepare students to be global citizens. She recently conducted a survey in Jefferson County and found that 58 languages other than English are spoken in Jefferson County alone.
“The world has hit Kentucky,” Miranda said.
And Miranda, in turn, has hit Eastern.