Monday, March 15, 2010

Diversity vs Uniformity

I grew up in a very uniform culture, white and religious, but my face screamed diversity.

As a young adult about to leave home, my ideas about diversity were very naive. I hadn't ever really thought about what it meant to have a different skin color than others, to have a different heritage of ancestors, to have a different background. I hadn't ever really thought about what people who were not white were going through, what problems and difficulties they faced, nor how all of that influenced who they became.

Right before going to college, I believed in the importance of being colorblind. We all bleed. We all face difficulties. We are all part of the human race. I left the safety of my home of uniformity, went out into the world, and changed my mind. My face and skin color forced me to think about the importance of understanding diversity and how naive I was to believe in the importance of being colorblind.

I find that my Chinese students' thoughts about diversity are like mine when I was a young adult about to leave home. It is something foreign to them because they have lived all of their lives in a very uniform society.

Why is it important to think about diversity even though you live in a uniform society?

Because the world is not full of uniform ideas, nor full of universal human beings who are all more similar than different since we are part of mankind. Exposure to the diversity of thought, of beliefs, of customs, exposure to the diversity of people and how people are influenced by their different backgrounds are all important to think about.

Even if the students don't personally relate to some of the ideas that I am presenting in the English short story class, I can only hope that students get exposed to some new ideas and maybe start thinking about things in a different way.

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