As I sat at the Cranwell International Center, being interviewed for the post of Global Ambassador, I was asked: Is VT inclusive, in catering to different nationalities? This got me thinking…You see,in my opinion, inclusivity is not a institution-dependent, it is rather, part of a much larger phenomenon, waiting to be jostled around with, by the mental faculties of all those, who do care, to be a part of a global venture, called life.
The dangers of a singular view and perception are many, while a variety of opinions and colors add flavors to the community, wherein we reside.
So, HOW DOES ONE BECOME AN ALLY?
An ally for inclusivity. An ally proclaiming equality…
The Salamanca Statement (UNESCO, 1994) had a major impact in reaffirming, recalling and recognizing policy and practice of inclusion in many different countries. Inclusion thus (a tad stereotypically), may be described as the extent to which communities receive differentially abled, differentially thinkers and the like, individuals as members of the group and values them for the contribution that they make.
As individuals, each one of us is different and unique. In a community there will be people who are more similar to each other and then there will be people who stand out, because of their differences in ability, interest or attainment. The extent to which we treasure the variety in the individuals and also accept them as they are and for what they are, defines our inclusive nature.
This means that for effective inclusion, all individuals must actively belong to, be welcomed by and participate in mainstream community. Their diversity of interest, abilities and attainment should be welcomed and be seen to enhance the life of the community.
It not only pertains to responding to the special needs of the individual but going a step forward and accepting the differences, appreciating the range and embracing the variety. Inclusion then is all about giving importance to diversity rather then simply integrating and assimilating it.
And of course, inclusion cannot be taken as a onetime activity, it requires constant monitoring and evaluation of the system and it also demands restructuring the cultures, policies and practices so that it incessantly and continuously responds to the diversity of the individuals in their system.
So, it is Asian-Pasific American Heritage month. And VT, in all its inclusivity is hosting a haord of events to commemorate the same. But these events shall foster inclusivity, only if YOU make an effort to learn and appreciate and benefit from these talks. So, munch on steamed dumplings and coconut cookies (or any of your fav APA delectables), but make also an honest effort to learn how you can be inclusive.
To summarize I take refuge of the Bard of Avon,
The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Mercy, not from the point of forgiveness……but in terms of being indulgent of each other’s differences, moderations in our attitudes and being generous in expanding of our learning about others…