One of our sponsors and outreach partners is Indiana University’s Collins Living-Learning Center. Associate Director Yara Clüver talks about the Lotus-Collins connection.

Yara Clüver is an artist, educator, researcher, advocate, mother – and during her working hours, Associate Director of Indiana University’s Collins Living-Learning Center. There, she both teaches and helps coordinate the co-curricular and extra-curricular programming and facilities managed by the Collins Arts Council – one of the Center’s many student-run governing bodies.

“The core values of Collins are academic engagement, diversity, community, student empowerment, and sustainability,” explains Yara. “We bring these values to life by offering our residents broad opportunities to explore their creativity, leadership potential, and ways to give back to the community.”

Established in the 1970s as a unique collaboration between IU’s Residential Programs Services and the College of Arts & Sciences, Collins was one of the university’s first living-learning centers. “It has a long tradition of fostering students’ engagement and involvement in determining their own academic careers,” says Yara.

She contends that “creativity” should be included as one of the core values of Collins. “Our students are very engaged and motivated…. When people think about Collins, they talk about the ‘artsy dorm,’ and while I don’t like to perpetuate those stereotypes, people interested in the arts and in extra-curricular activities that involve creative thinking and problem-solving … there is a way in which those interests mesh.”

Australian storyteller and musician Paul Taylor leads a didjeridoo workshop at Collings Living-Learning Center, 2008

In addition to supporting the festival, Collins has also hosted an artist workshop through the Lotus Blossoms program. Clüver recalls, “We did a didgeridoo-making workshop with Paul Taylor [in 2008]. It was one of our most popular events. We would love to bring more of these events into Collins.”

Each IU Residence Hall is associated with a community organization, and the Collins Living-Learning Center is a longstanding partner in the Middleway House Rise Kids children’s program and through the Collins Community Involvement group. “Collins is also an active partner in the IU Themester sustainability program,” says Clüver.

“When we get a proposal from an organization like Lotus, I talk to Arts Council members about the relevance of supporting things that we feel are important – and the students love going to the Festival,” Yara laughs. “But it also is a way of getting our name out there and letting people know what Collins stands for and what we believe.”