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STORIES in Agriculture and Life Sciences

Article Title

Bridging Cultures

Abstract

She'd been sporting a short Afro, and then showed up in class one day with 500 shoulder length braids woven into her hair. For Eddy Luvaga, a native of Kenya, Africa, the dramatic change in hairstyle was nothing unusual. But for a classroom of Iowa State University freshman, many from small rural Iowa communities, the shift was totally unexpected. "For some students I may be the first person of color they've interacted with," says Luvaga. "In this case, I remember the students were silent and just stared." So she opened her class time with a discussion about black hair care, letting students ask the questions they had on their minds. It was a practical and teachable moment-the kind that Luvaga employs regularly in her economic development class and as an adviser in the economics department. "I want students to feel comfortable asking me about my differences."

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