Written by BRITTANY HERRMANN / STAFF WRITER
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Diversity is a dominant aspect in everyone’s daily lives. However, it is also one of the most misunderstood concepts, one that many people do not take the time to recognize and appreciate. Embracing ideological diversity improves one’s social and professional life, while also having the power to teach individuals something about themselves.
Merriam-Webster defines diversity as “the condition of having or being composed of differing elements.” Considering the simplicity of the definition, why are there so many misconceptions surrounding the topic and idea of diversity?
“When people think of diversity, they automatically think of skin color,” said Dr. Franca Mancini, Director of Counseling and Psychological services at the University.
Is race a part of diversity? Yes. However, it is not the foundation. Age, gender, social class, education levels and religion are just some broad ways which make everyone diverse.
Mancini prefers to dissect the essential themes that reside within the word diversity. “Understanding,” “similarities and differences,” “inclusion,” “cooperation,” “community” and “sensitivity” are just a few of the single-word definitions Mancini uses to explain diversity. “I like to use one word definitions, it makes people think,” said Mancini.
Mancini encourages all students to comprehend the importance of diversity. “Diversity is a part of everyday,” said Mancini. “Whether you are accepting another culture, or you are a male in an all-female class there is diversity occurring.”
Similar to Mancini’s example of the different situations of diversity, a junior Amy Cancillier recently experienced classroom diversity while studying abroad during the 2011 fall semester in Florence, Italy.
“Many students that study abroad are female,” explained the 20-yearold. “In each of my classes, there were around two boys out of about 30 students in each classroom.”
Cancillieri’s outlook on diversity has changed as a result from her involvement studying abroad. “My perception of different cultures has changed,” said Cancillieri. “I went to six different countries while I studied abroad, I got to experience the life and culture of people in these countries.”
Cancillieri feels that her multicultural experience overseas has prepared her for her future. “I am sure that no matter what type of job I choose, I will encounter diversity daily,” said the social work major.
Diversity is not only a part of daily lives of those in social work, diversity lies within every professional job or career out there.
Technology advances that are available in the world today have diminished the distance between cultures around the world. Though the physical difference remains the same, technology allows businesses all over to communicate with ease which is why embracing diversity is crucial.
Professionals must adapt to whomever they are dealing with. Accepting and understanding cultural differences is a must. Embracing diversity will then allow everyone to communicate with ease.
Opening up to the ideology of diversity is quite easy. First, instead of pointing fingers, take a look at yourself and ask how you personally view diversity. No one is perfect, and unfortunately there are barriers that people hold against others due to lack of knowledge. By gaining knowledge about others cultural differences you will learn to grow and respect those around you.
After interrogating yourself, see how you can not only learn to accept the subject of diversity, but how can you involve yourself in it. There is a fine line between acceptance, and tolerance. By accepting others, you are embracing their differences. By tolerating, you are still closed minded.
There are numerous organizations and clubs to join on campus. Joining at least one will lead you in the right direction to becoming a more diverse person, which in turn will prepare you for the future while still benefiting your present daily life.
No two human beings are the same. Every one of us is unique; to dismiss that claim would be foolish. Instead of wasting time trying to change others, accepting and embracing what makes them diverse from us is vital. Without embracing diversity, you are missing out on what a majority of life has to offer.
President John F. Kennedy once said, “If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.”