Terry Williams

Terry Williams always knew he wanted to be in education, but figured out early on that classroom teaching was not for him. He’s devoted most of his career to sharing the culture of indigenous people with the broader public.

Williams has been the coordinator of the International Performing Arts Series in the Center for International Studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis for 11 years. He handles all of the details – schedules, hotels, meals, publicity – to ensure UMSL reaps the benefits of bringing in performers from literally all over the world.

“I love my job,” Williams said. “The series really brings a world view to UMSL and invites people to investigate other cultures.”

The series just announced its 2010-2011 season at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center. It includes “Chinese Dance: Classical, Modern and Folk”; Mavrothi Kontanis and the Maeandros Ensemble; Taikoza; “Chiwoniso: Rebel Woman”; and Triptych. These performances will bring a glimpse of China, Japan, Africa, the eastern Mediterranean and Celtic Canada to the university.

“We strive to show many different perspectives because they are all valid and all worth looking into,” Williams said. “And by paying attention to what is happening in the world, your perception gets that much sharper.”

Williams is a St. Louis native who attended Bishop DuBourg and Southwest high schools before earning a bachelor’s degree in theater from Webster University in Webster Groves, Mo., and a master’s degree in communications and theater from Saint Louis University.

Prior to coming to UMSL, Williams worked to integrate Hawaiian culture into the curriculum at University of Hawaii-Maui Community College, helped Hopi and Navajo tribes in Arizona share their culture with the community and led education initiatives on local historical customs at the Grand Canyon. He also ran the humanities program at OASIS in St. Louis.

“I like to develop curriculum and have a lot of variety in my day, which I certainly get here,” Williams said.

Thankfully, Williams enjoys meticulous detail-oriented projects since he handles all the booking, contract negotiations and everything else involved with bringing in speakers and performers. Plus, he is the main Web master for CIS.

“It’s been quite wonderful,” he said of his tenure at UMSL. “I meet the most fascinating people with incredible talent. They are so gracious in sharing their cultures with us.”

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Kylie Shafferkoetter

Kylie Shafferkoetter