New York City Youth Poet Laureate Nkosi Nkulekulo performs as part of the COA Diverse Voices Series.New York City Youth Poet Laureate Nkosi Nkulekulo performs as part of the COA Diverse Voices Series.

BAR HARBOR — Funded with a generous, anonymous grant, the COA Diverse Voices Series sponsors a variety of speakers and events throughout the year that serve to illuminate our collective challenges and commonalities. 

“Learning to understand and embrace diverse perspectives must be core to education and is especially crucial in our current political climate,” said COA dean of student life Sarah Luke. “We hope that students, through both academic and social opportunities at COA, explore the spectrum of the human experience to help them better understand themselves, others and the challenges we face together.” 

Cistone Alyne is a Kenyan-born attorney and <a href="/about/administration/board-of-trustees/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">College of the Atlantic trustee</a>. She will be giving the talk, “Between My Two Worlds,” as part of COA's new Diverse Voices Series.Cistone Alyne is a Kenyan-born attorney and College of the Atlantic trustee. She will be giving the talk, “Between My Two Worlds,” as part of COA's new Diverse Voices Series. Credit: Copyright: 2012 - William S. BrehmThe Series was scheduled to launch with a presentation about Maine’s Malaga Island by COA design professor Dru Colbert and continues with a reading by New York City Youth Poet laureate Nkosi Nkulekulo, held in collaboration with the COA Bateau/Jesup Reading Series.

Other upcoming events include “Between My Two Worlds,” a talk by COA Trustee and Kenyan-born attorney Alyne Cistone, and a talk by Muslim scholar and human rights and refugee activist Reza Jalali, a Kurd from Iran who is a who has lived in Maine since 1985.

With nearly 20% of the COA student body from international locations, the College adds diversity to the Mount Desert Island area with past and current students from Oceania, Japan, Israel, Ethiopia, Sudan, Myanmar, Nepal, Namibia, the Philippines, Palestine, the Euro-zone, and many other countries. Students interact with the surrounding community, sharing their culture, talents, languages, and food while out and about and through events at COA such as talent shows and open mics.

College officials are focused on increasing diversity among students, faculty, and visitors. While the school has had much success with boosting international diversity through the Davis United World Scholars program, officials said that increasing domestic diversity has been a tougher challenge. Still, they remain committed to that goal.

“COA’s administration and faculty have recently made diversity a priority and are developing a diversity initiative to focus on attracting more diverse students, faculty, and staff,” academic dean Ken Hill said.