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What role can educational institutions play in this process?
A: There are very few universities
in America that adequately prepare artists, culture workers and
academics for the work that was discussed at the conference. As
we struggle to fulfill the promise of multicultural education, we
must also invest in the study of world arts and cultures. To this
end, UCLA has established the first Department of World Arts and
Cultures (WAC) in this country. We seek to educate both American
and international students in a program that places equal value
on Western and non-Western, traditional and contemporary, high and
popular arts, theory and practice.
students bring with them cultural traditions that are respected
by the department and their student peers. Our job as faculty is
to give them tools that can be strategically applied to their home
context. We do not ask them to imitate our values, aesthetics and
techniques. Over the years our graduates have become leaders in
their countries. From their positions of influence they continue
to foster cultural exchange.
day after the White House event, I attended a press conference by
the Ford Foundation at which the largest initiative in the foundation's
history was announced - a $330-million international graduate fellowship
program and complementary undergraduate initiative. I am deeply
moved by this commitment of the Ford Foundation. As former Secretary
of State Albright said at the conference, scholarship and fellowship
support is one of the most important investments we can make. It
has a guaranteed long-term benefit for all.
What other support does WAC offer?
A: With the support of the Ford
Foundation, Asian Cultural Council and the Rockefeller Foundation,
I direct the Asian Pacific Performance Exchange. Traditional and
contemporary artists and writers from Asia and America come here
to live and work with one another for six weeks at UCLA. Exchange
begins as people teach each other, then collaborate and create together,
all along the way learning about their differences and similarities.
Intercultural collaborative exchange gets at the core issues of
culture and has a clarifying and empowering effect for artists.
Programs like this can change people's lives and give them tools
for the important work at home.
of approach - touring, education, workshops - we must do the hard
work of interpreting the deep structures of culture. Only then can
we find effective means of translating these lessons into responsible
action and develop policy that respects cultures around the world.