Before taking this diversity class, I had previously taken a similar course at my undergraduate program and I did not have a very good experience. The instructor was not the most understanding of other people’s views and it was taught in a style that if you did not agree with him and what he thought, you were wrong. So coming into this course, I was not very thrilled about the experience I was going to have due to that class. However, that wasn’t the case. I gained a lot of knowledge and skills that I hope to apply to my life. There were two that really stuck out to me. I think that the concepts of Diversity vs Inclusion and the ideas of making space and meeting people where they are can lead to so many more avenues that can be expanded upon.
1. Diversity vs Inclusion
I’ve always knew that these two concepts existed, but I never really realized how much they actually played into each other. Just because you’re “diverse” doesn’t mean that you’re inclusive. A campus or work place can be diverse in the sense that there are people with different backgrounds and experiences, but it doesn’t really mean anything if those people aren’t having the opportunity to blend those backgrounds and experiences together. When diversity and inclusion are done right, the group as a whole can be strengthen.
2. Make space and meet people where they are
This class showed me the importance of being able to meet people where they are. This is always something I try to do, but this class reinforced the idea that just because you think you know someone, doesn’t mean you do. As that class went on and we got more comfortable around each other, I think all of us were more willing to share details about ourselves that normally wouldn’t be seen. It just goes to show that you never know what someone is going through and to never judge a book by it’s cover. We do not always know the answers to everything and no one is ever truly an expert. We must constantly expand our understanding and one way to do that is engage with others, especially those who don’t come from the same background as we do.
I’ve heard the saying that once you think you’re done learning, you immediately start going backwards. I think this thought process really applies to the overall theme of the class. We are all currently in a graduate level program and enthusiastic about learning. I think that we all need to remember that just because we are done with this class, we are never done learning about diversity, equity and inclusion. These conversations are constantly happening and changing. We must be willing to accept and acknowledge the fact that we need to grow as the conversation does. I feel that we must also be willing to start these types of conversations. If we don’t, then who’s to say someone else will?