Soochow University Art Troupe visited PSU last week to help celebrate the 11th anniversary of our Confucius Institute. PSU’s connections with Soochow University run deep. Soochow is Portland State’s sister university, located in Suzhou, China. The partnership supports two PSU students a year to study Chinese and culture at Soochow University. Over 300 guests attended the performance and filled the Peter W. Stott Center, including three consular officials from the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco.
The student dance troupe demonstrated exceptional talent. The performance includes 10 programs that provide an overview of China’s history, major artistic forms, cultural diversity, and geographical variety. There was a traditional stepping dance from 2000 years ago, Chinese opera, the Terracotta Warriors, Chinese musical instruments and more.
The visit is part of an annual cultural visit sponsored by the Confucius Institute Headquarters, based in Beijing.
Unlocking Life’s Code
PSU, with our OHSU and OMSI partners, helped open the Genome exhibit at OMSI a few days later. The exhibit explores the history of the human genome and the future of genomic medicine. The “Unlocking Life’s Code” was first exhibited at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C., and is now making its way to museums and science centers across North America.
President Wiewel, Vice President for Research and Strategic Partnerships Jon Fink, other administrators, PSU faculty, staff and I were present for the opening reception. Jon was instrumental in PSU’s involvement and getting the exhibit to Portland. He points out that, “the major public- and private-sector investments in HGP [Human Genome Project] were justified on the grounds that all people share a common genetic framework, which when fully deciphered could point the way to cures for human diseases.”
The displays are inspiring and, in true OMSI style, are appropriate for all ages. They engage your imagination beyond the displays. In fact, Jon has written on how the Human Genome Project (HGP) may provide a model for mapping the “urban genome” and he asks “Might we apply the same logic to cities, using a classification system for all urban traits—an Urban Genome Project (UGP)—to suggest the way(s) to metropolitan health?”
The Genome exhibit is but one example of PSU’s growing partnership with OHSU and OMSI that include not only our connections in science, but now a true physical connection with the new Tillicum Bridge.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day
PSU commemorated Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 12 at our Native American Studentand Community Center. It was no coincidence this is the same day as Columbus Day. The City of Portland joined a list of cities honoring the contributions of Native Americans in the Portland area by declaring this day “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in recognition that the story of Christopher Columbus is not one of discoverer.
Students, faculty, staff, community members and attendees of the National Indian Education Association came together in Portland. Carmen Suarez, our diversity officer, Cornel Pewewardy, Chair of PSU’s Indigenous Nations Studies, and I were invited to give the welcome on behalf of PSU. Four panelists from other universities gave their personal, institutional and national perspectives about decolonization. Their insights and examples were inspiring and thought provoking.
Professor Pewewardy stated earlier in the day, “We try not to romanticize Indigenous peoples, to demonize European settlers, or present the story as a depressing litany of victimization. But in all of our courses, we try to encourage a diverse understanding of the European invasion’s consequences to the tribal Nations, to honor the rich legacy of resistance to the injustices it created, to convey some appreciation for the diverse Indigenous cultures of the hemisphere, and to reflect on what this renaming holiday all means within a multicultural society.”
There were many other events this past week at PSU, too many for any one person to attend. I certainly hope our students, faculty, staff and the community are taking full advantage of all that PSU has to offer to add to our knowledge, expand our thinking, and enjoy the rich culture that surrounds us. I invite you to share an event you attended at PSU recently, or comment about any of the three I was able to attend this past week.