Diversity

Ruth Wu

Ruth Wu

I was born in Taiwan, where 5,000 years of Chinese tradition is inherited. Billy Graham came to my country and showed me the wonders of America's biblical foundation. I have lived in the U.S. for 28 years and am happy to proudly sing, "God bless America, my home, sweet home."

Hi, my name is Ruth, and this is my story.

I am an international admissions specialist on East Campus in Valencia College.

Due [according] to Chinese culture, people should be humble and quiet, but I'm not always like that. I'm talkative sometimes, and I like to tell jokes, and actually, I have years of experiences on stage. I like to play a totally different role, like a robber, or an aggressive woman. I really enjoy playing that kind of role. It's totally different from my character, but I enjoy doing that, and I feel very fun when I do this. That's why I love drama!

I want people to know that I like to do tai chi. It helps me keep good shape; of course this is one of our traditions. Each time after I practice tai chi, I just feel the circulation of my body is very good.

I was born in Taiwan, where 5000 years of Chinese culture is inherited, in which ethics is much more emphasized than religion. When I was 15 years old, I first heard the gospel from Billy Graham's Crusade to Taiwan which exposed me to a new world I had never known before. I wondered why an American would travel half of the Earth to tell me his life-changing story. After living in the States for almost 30 years, I realize that it is the biblical foundation this country chose that makes her a true beauty: a place where differences of among individuals can be truly respected, for all are created by god, and can't be judged by their appearances.

Now I'm happy to sing, "God bless America, my home sweet home!"

My name is Ruth Wu, I am a proud American.

Hank Van Putten

Adjunct Professor, New Student Experience, East Campus

Overcoming my own internalized oppression and perceptions of people who look like me was the start to my journey as an anti-racist educator. I found myself in a position to fight for justice and spark change in the school system as an administrator. I make my life a "have to" every day to speak out, educate and get involved.

Hi, my name is Hank Van Putten, and this is my story.

I came to the College in the fall of 2011, when I was blessed to be offered a position in Student Life Skills, SLS. The purpose of the course is to assist students in their transition from wherever they are in their life into college.

People would probably describe me as a little bit crazy at times; I have this crazy laugh that people have actually come up to me and said, "Could you do that again?!"

During each one of my classes, in the very first class, I ask everyone to introduce themselves by using their name, and the letters in their name to describe themselves. So, I model it for them as HANK: H for happy, because I want to happy and healthy; A for athlete, I've been an athlete since middle school, through high school and into college, and I still consider myself an athlete at this point in my life cycle; nutty: if you saw a picture of me dressed as a turtle in my gymnasium when I was teaching phys. ed. because the gymnasium had been taken over for Earth Day, I played the role of a turtle; and, I'm a kid at heart. I still have a model railroading set that I built when I lived up north and I had to dismantle it and bring it down here so now I'm in the process of putting it back together again. So, Hank, H-A-N-K, Happy, athlete, nutty and kid at heart.

What I want people to know about me is that I pay it forward, and that I want to encourage them to pay it forward as well. I have been doing this work, and actually I have been in education for over 30 years, 35 years, and it's a journey, and it's a never-ending journey, however I want to be sure that people understand that this is not something that happens overnight, regardless of what it is that you may be doing, math, science, social studies, or making sure folks have equal access and are included in all that they do.

Then, I remember when I was about 17or 18 years old, and I had just come back from college as a freshman, and I met up with my friend, his name was Fat Dog, that's what we used to call him, and we were going from one party to the next walking down streets in Jamaica Queens, and different parts of Queens, when suddenly out of nowhere these police cars surrounded us and the police cars, the policemen jumped out of the car and they pushed us up against the wall and they started patting us down, and we were trying to politely ask them, what was going on, why were they doing this to us, and one police officer blurted out, "You look like two colored kids who just robbed a store nearby!"

And then I remember hearing over the radio, "We got 'em! We got 'em!" and while we were standing there spread eagle against the wall the police officers just left us standing there and went on to catch whoever it was they needed to catch.

I remember another time when I had to go pick up my son, who was at soccer camp, and on the way back home from soccer camp, the speed limit was 65 and I was doing 70, and there was a speed trap so the police officer pulled me over. Walked up alongside the car, and he said "License and registration!" I went to get my license and registration, and he said, "Do you know how fast you were going?" I said, "Yeah, I was going about 70, 72." He said, "You know what, you're the first person who's told the truth today about how fast they were going. I just want you to slow down a little bit rather than going as fast as you can, make sure you and your son get home safely."

Now I share that story because often times, and I tell my students this in the work that I do, we have to challenge our assumptions and we have to be sure that we don't just assume that because someone is approaching us for a reason, particularly a police officer, that they might be approaching us for a bad reason. I've had a couple of those experiences that have helped me balance off my assumptions about police, and although I know that there are some bad police officers, the majority of the police officers are doing their job to the best of the capabilities.

These stories, and many more, have had an impact on me throughout my life. Now, one of the things that I really enjoy about working at Valencia are being able to use a set of principles that help to guide the work of peace and justice. Identifying one's assumptions are one of them. Telling one's story as I have shared my story with you is another one. But practicing slowing down is one that I've really learned to use.

I am Hank Van Putten, and I believe that experience is a hard teacher. The exam comes first, and then the lesson follows.