I AM WE ARE Celebrates Twentieth Anniversary

Friday, Nov. 20 kicks off the celebration of the 20th anniversary of I Am We Are on campus. There are many workshops throughout the weekend as alumni and current members of the current I Am We Are Troupe  (IAWA) collaborate to create a special show.

“Students, staff and faculty here today should be proud of our commitment to justice, equality and diversity,” Professor Lang, Director of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, said.

“IAWA is one of the small handful of important efforts to make social justice the norm in Gustavus culture. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that ‘human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable.’ The IAWA anniversary gives us a chance to remember the struggle and sacrifice of dedicated people who came before to help make that progress happen here, and it reminds us that we need to be the ones to continue that struggle if we want it to continue.”

The first workshop starts at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, “Understanding Ubuntu” with Neo Moroka ‘05. Ubuntu is the South African word meaning “I am because we are” and his workshop will help the participants explore that idea. Also on Friday at 2:30 p.m., and again on Saturday at 12:15 p.m., will be a “Social Justice Theater Intensive” with Vanita Vactor.

Vactor was a professor at Gustavus and her courses about social justice inspired the creation of I Am We Are. On Saturday at 10:30 a.m. there is a workshop on “Laughtivism: Comedy and Social Justice” with Michael J. Sielaff ‘08.

At 2:15 p.m. on Saturday there will be a panel of alumni who will talk about “Life after I Am We Are”. Virgil Jones, the former Director of Diversity and Co-Advisor of I Am We Are (2006-2011) will be moderating the panel. The panel will consist of Sedrick Hawkins ‘96, Heather Nielsen ‘99, Emanda Thomas ‘02, Matt Swenson ‘06, Brian Evans ‘07, Lillie Hollingsworth ‘08, Rhea Muchalla LeGrande ‘09, Megan Myhre ‘11, Elizabeth Coco ‘12, Karla Leitzman ‘13 and Julie Tindell ‘13.

The alumni have impacted the world in a variety of ways. Their careers after Gustavus include but are not limited to; teaching, professional dancing, press secretary and senior communications advisor to Governor Mark Dayton and Dean of Students. These alumni have used the skills they developed at Gustavus then went out into the world to try and create a positive impact.

Later on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. there will be a panel about “The Beginnings of I Am We Are”. Vactor and the first Director of I Am We Are Denise Iverson-Payne will speak.

Finally at 8 p.m. on Saturday “We Were, We Are – A Collaboration of New and Vintage Works by I Am We Are” will be performed in the Anderson Theatre.  Amy Sehan is the Director and Junior Theater major Elsa Larsen is the stage manager for the production.

“I have been attending rehearsals of the troupe and the Anniversary Ensemble to keep all members of the production organized, informed and on schedule,” Larsen said.

Her job continues to keep her busy throughout the weekend.

“During the events of the weekend, I will make sure all workshops are running on time, all workshop leaders have what they need, and all guests are having the best experience possible. During the shows, I make sure all the performers are where they need to be at the correct time, calling light and sound cues in the booth, and solving problems that arise,” Larsen said.

Senior Dan Britt helped out writing and transcribing some of the pieces performed in the show.

“I’m excited to see it all come together. I’m excited to see the diversity of the alumni and their critique of the show,” Britt said.

First-year Sydney Hallmark will help out in the booth for the show. “It’s been great working towards this and I’m excited to see the final product,” Hallmark said.

There will be also be a matinée performance at 2p.m. on Sunday.