Why Fit in If We Were Born to Stand Out?*

Diversity is everywhere, no matter where you go. That’s the amazing thing of this world! Don’t you think? I had not had the opportunity to be around a lot of people from different countries, cultures, ethnicities, languages, abilities, backgrounds, beliefs, religious, etc., “on a daily basis” until I came to Virginia Tech. This was a completely new experience for me!

As Katherine Phillips discusses in her article, it is really powerful when people with such diversity work together. It is not only the background what makes a big difference, there are the experiences and philosophies what bring to the table different perspectives and information.

I love being different and I do not want to appear something that I am not just to fit in a place or a culture. However, sometimes I feel that everyone is looking at me just because I do not look like a typical American student. Sometimes, even I do not feel comfortable speaking because I know that my English is not good enough. This, sometimes, may affect students’ performance. There are several questions that come to my mind. Do the professors really care about diversity in the classroom?

I am taking a course this semester in which the professor, at the beginning of the class, posts trivial questions to engage students. We use i-clicker to answer those questions. From my point of view, this does not engage students at all or at least it does not work for me. I do not know any of those answers because all of these are related to movies/series of the United States. There are more than 150 students in that class and I would dare to say that there is a lot of diversity in that classroom. Could not he be more inclusive?

So, my questions for you are:

Are you promoting an inclusive environment in the classroom? If not, how can you do it? And, are you taking advantage of all the benefits that diversity groups may have on students’ creativity, work, and interpersonal interaction?

It is time for an inclusive teaching and learning!

*Quote taken from Dr. Seuss

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