The 25TH Annual REACH Across Dayton conference hosted by Sinclair was on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.
REACH is an acronym for Realizing Ethnic Awareness and Cultural Heritage. It is coordinated by Tess Little and Willis “Bing” Davis. This conference is a collaborative partnership between Sinclair Community College and the Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC).
The mission of the REACH conference is to promote knowledge and education between the African American, Appalachian, Latino, Native Americans and other cultures within the Dayton area. It encourages attendees to recognize the similarities as well as the differences between ethnic groups.
The event was from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Building 12 and served guests a continental breakfast as well as lunch. It included keynote sessions, breakout workshops, hands-on activities and musical performances. The event was welcome to the public and the cost was $50 per guest, and free for Sinclair students if they filled out a payment waiver.
The theme of this year’s conference was “In the Spirit of Finding Hope.” Many of the breakout sessions included activities relating to the ideal of finding hope.
After a warm welcome from Little and Davis, the attendees were invited to join in a morning song. Next, a Psychologist Eréndira López-Garcia from Wright State University, presented a keynote session “Latinos/as in the United States: A Hopeful Path for Intercultural Connection.”
Guests then had the option of choosing from 3 more sessions to attend until lunch at noon. There was a session called “No Stones Unturned: Demanding Voice in the Visual Arts” presented by John Drury. Or guests could go to one of two panels, the first one was “Finding Hope: Students and Faculty Share Their Stories” and the second was “Understanding Housing Insecurity and Homelessness Among College Students.”
Lunch was a time to socialize and hear personal stories from guest speakers and other attendees. It was a welcoming environment where people were happy to sit and carry conversations with people they had never met.
After lunch in the Great Hall, the conference hosted breakout sessions. There were many sessions on a copious amount of topics. Some of the options included The Archaeology of Ohio, Art Workshop: Masks of Hope, Dialogue Across our Differences: Finding Our Common Ground, and Pan-Africanism and Rastafari: Where there Is No Vision The People Perish.
“This is my first year at the conference and I am really enjoying myself. I’m ready to come back next year” said Victoria Hill, a second year student at Sinclair, working towards her degree in Social Work.
“I liked all the options for the breakout sessions. I had the opportunity to learn about the Rastafari culture, which I always loved. I even got to have a conversation with a man named Ras Roderick Calhoun, who knew Bob Marley, my favorite singer,” said Briana Finfrock, a first-year student at Sinclair pursuing her Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology.
At 3:30 p.m. the closing session began. There was a performance by the Dayton percussion ensemble Burundi Drummers of Dayton, who plays with large drums to celebrate the musical traditions that are celebrated in their homeland. They had on their celebration attire and put on a very enthusiastic perf0rmance.