A Diverse Experience
Even after study abroad trips to Jamaica and South Africa, senior Charles Prince wanted another cross-cultural experience. As a result, he is spending this semester as an exchange student at Dillard University, a historically black university in New Orleans.
Prince is the first Southwestern student to study at another school as part of the Engaged Diversity program, which is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Other schools involved with the project are Rhodes, Huston-Tillotson, Dillard and Morehouse. The latter three are historically black institutions. A student from Morehouse spent a semester at Southwestern in 2008 as part of the program.
“The word diversity and the realm of diversity mean different things,” Prince said. “I want to know these perceptions and I also want to know how the process differs between the two institutions (Southwestern and Dillard).”
An education and history double-major, Prince is studying at Dillard both to be personally enriched by experiencing diversity and also as a liaison for Southwestern, in order to strengthen the relationship between the universities. When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Southwestern helped Dillard professors keep in touch with their students. Although Dillard is still recovering, it has made substantial improvements since then and is attempting to build a stronger relationship with Southwestern, in part through the Engaged Diversity program.
Prince, who is African-American, joined Engaged Diversity his first year at Southwestern. At the time, he didn’t know what involvement with the program would entail, but he didn’t hesitate to join because he shared the program’s philosophies and practices of engaging people in diversity.
Prince is the first student to be elected to the steering committee of Engaged Diversity. His involvement with the program has included working with various organizations on campus about diversity issues, such as the recruitment and hiring of minority faculty members.
Although the Engaging Diversity program has been beneficial to Prince, it is far from his first experience with diversity. He is a native of Port Arthur, Texas, which is a predominantly black city. “I grew up ‘black’ all my life,” he said. “Coming to Southwestern was a change for me.”
In addition to taking classes at Dillard and Xavier University this semester, Prince is teaching early U.S. history and Louisiana state history at the Sophie B Wright Charter School under a 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher, Mrs. Warnett Craig. The Sophie B Wright Charter School was a public middle school under the New Orleans education system before Hurricane Katrina hit. It became a charter school for 5th to 10th grade students in order to run independently because New Orleans is attempting to decentralize authority from a school board to individual schools.
Prince is blogging about his teaching experience this semester at http://charlesbwprince.blogspot.com
He is also working on a book titled Feminist Fatherhood: A New Face to Fatherhood in America and a research article titled “Post-Colonial Education in the 21st Century: Comparing South Africa and Jamaica Educational Systems.”
His book discusses how men today can recast their masculinity in more well-rounded ways. This takes into consideration feminine males as well as men who embody feminist ideology.
“I believe that as males in today’s society, the stagnation of roles between male and female must be broken down,” Prince said. “There has been a lot of research on fathers doing this, but I want to get back to the basics and write a book on advocating for this kind of father and trying to show men how they can be this type of father − almost like a step-by-step guide.”
Prince, who grew up in a single-parent household, said he got the idea for the book from a book by Mark Anthony Neal called A New Black Man in America. “He touched on this idea briefly in his book. I just want to expand it,” he said.
Prince hopes to publish the article by December and the book by his graduation in May 2010. Alicia Moore, associate professor of education at Southwestern, is working with him on the book project.