How do you feel about diversity? When the first efforts were made to acknowledge different cultures, the buzz word was multiculturalism. Now, it is simply called diversity. Librarians scrambled to make sure that their collections met the new criteria. They chose books where all children could see themselves and their families represented. This added to their self-worth and it gave them a place of representation in the world.
At the time, I did not quite understand the importance of the new push; but now I truly see the need for children to have shared experiences with children from varied backgrounds and cultures. The mingling is a great opportunity for them to grow as they get ready to live and work in the real and multi-faceted world. It enriches them and helps them become more rounded.
I thought of this topic because of a news clip I saw earlier this week. It talked about certain students who did well in high school but when they went on to college, they could not cope with the other cultures. One, in particular, did not know how to cope nor interact. He felt isolated and contemplated suicide. His former school is now putting some scaffolding methods in place to assist future students so that they can operate from a level of confidence.
Having conversations with others from all walks of life opens and widens viewpoints. Reading and talking with others remind us that we are all alike. We all have the same hopes, dreams, fears and emotions. We are indeed universal, though we may look and sound differently.
Children who have been exposed to diverse situations are more relaxed with all types and often ease the adult fears. They are much more tolerant and understanding. The earlier children get to know other cultures, the better. They will become adults who are comfortable with many types of people and less restricted in their thinking and feelings toward others.
We learn from each other and being in a diverse setting is the absolute best way to measure socially acceptable behavior. When a group is from one background or culture, they may think that certain negative behavior is okay; but in the company of others, chances are that it will be more subdued.
Normally, in a diverse group, children and adults are more likely to put on their better manners and display behaviors that synchronize with the expectations. A look, a stare, a gaped mouth are definite signals saying that this will not do.
Those children who do make friendships with those from other cultures are richer for it. They visit each other’s homes and learn different languages, foods and clothes. Oftentimes, these unions open the doors to travel, both in the country and overseas.
So, mingling is a very good thing because too much of the same only brings a sense of loss of what is real. Fling open the doors and let others show some new ways of living this life!
Lynn February 25, 2015