Diversity can create knowledge and understanding that is larger and goes deeper than what would be achieved without it. For example a person who comes from an urban area can better understand what goes on in a city than a person who lives in a rural area. While at the same time the person who lives in the country probably knows much more about things like agriculture. If these two people never interact then their worldviews will most likely be fairly narrow. However, if both the person from the city and the country come together, they have a better chance at viewing the world through a larger lens. This is advantageous because it can create an understanding that helps build a more unified community within the human race.
An, experience I have had at Guilford College relateed to diversity was something called a Cultural Competency Exercise done through the Bonner Center. I was told that I had to communicate with someone from another country who could not speak English. There were certain goals I had to accomplish such as figuring out where this man was from, telling him the name of my family members, and finding out what his favorite past time was. This exercise quickly showed me how difficult it was because not only could this man not speak English, but he also did not understand many of the cultural aspects I have as a white American. I learned that in order to communicate with him, I had to do some things that are universally understood. To help in this I drew pictures, acted out what I was trying to say, and even tried to understand some of his language. It was interesting that at first the exercise was rather awkward because this man did not understand anything I was trying to say. But as soon as I was finally able to make a connection with him about his name and on playing soccer he started being more responsive to the point where not only did I get my goals accomplished but he was helping me learn how to count in the language he speaks in Ghana.
I believe this exercise taught me a lot about diversity because I realized that no matter how different I may look or talk from someone else, there are certain things we all share. Sometimes all it takes is finding that one area where a connection happens with another person and then understanding has begun to build. Once I made that connection with my partner in the exercise I was able to get a better grasp of who he was and why. Not only did I understand better but also I was able to find out things about his culture that I preferred to mine such as how they treat the elderly in Ghana.
Sometimes I hear people talk about how we all just need to agree with each other and move on with our lives. However, this thought process is too simplistic. I find that on some issues I do not always think the same way within myself and the person I am now may disagree in certain areas with the person I will be five years from now. If this disagreement can happen so easily within each person then the idea that everyone can all just agree on everything with people who are extremely different than them just won’t happen. But this is okay! As long as basic things like human rights and needs such as nourishment that everyone has are met, then it’s good to be diverse and good to be different because it actually makes the world a better place. Diversity helps everyone to see the world with a wider lens and have a much fuller understanding of how things work.
Many atrocities committed today and throughout history have come across from either as a failure to understand someone different or a misrepresentation of who they really are. I believe that if humanity would embrace the idea of diversity and accept that people are different, our world would advance much faster. I learned a great deal about respect and communication from my partner in the exercise and those are things I can apply to my life today. If it is allowed to grow, I believe diversity can be one of our best teachers.