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Spring 2001
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Q: 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.

International 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.

The 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.

Q: 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.

Regardless 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.


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