In the past, I have a limited knowledge of the issues and causes of diversity, not to mention how to contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion. That is probably because I am from a culture that is not as diversified as the US in aspects such as race, culture, and religion. Still, there were many types of underpresented people as I grew up. For example, people who got despised because of their low grades, who wore outdated clothes, who was not pretty, who had a funny accent, who did not good at public speaking, who came from a small place and could not follow sophisticated social rules, and who is too introvert to express himself/herself to name a few. Sometimes I was in the privileged group, but sometimes I also suffered from segregations and discriminations. I admit that difficulty had made me think and become stronger, but I would not like to be situated in those agonizing and helpless moments again. It is also torturing to see any other people enduring disadvantageous conditions.
I am passionate about making underpresented people’s voice better heard and facilitating a more inclusive environment. For example, I would take the initiative to explain the assumed known information in a conversation to someone who is new to a group or who is not on the same page. I would translate and avoid using my native language if not all involved people are Chinese. I would introduce more introvert people to others and make them cared and seen in an activity. However, these are far from enough.
All my previous efforts are based on my own experience, understanding, and methods on diversity, equity and inclusion. My understanding can be shallow. My methods can have a limited influence. I can be ignorant to may other situations, such as education and education in a more diversified culture. Therefore, my first action item to get prepared for diversity issues in education is raising my awareness of diversity and its issues. Taking a diversity test online can help me identify my blind spots or confined thoughts. For example, after taking the test, I learned that justifying acts of discrimination has a different impact from validating a victim’s assessment. A simple test can quickly teach me what impacts our beliefs and actions can influence the circumstances people live in. I can also read articles, watch videos on diversity issues, and talk to my classmates and colleges to get exposed to more stories and perspectives.
Learning diversity issues will make me rethink what I can do and try things out. A more efficient way is to learn from other people’s lessons learned and successful stories. I would like to train myself in existing tested techniques in maintaining an equitable and inclusive educational environment and the methods to deal with difficult cases.
Application and Improvise:
In practice, I would first try to identify places that I can apply my learned knowledge and skills on diversity and make a difference. The places can be my classroom, my working environment, my development of friendships and volunteered activities. For example, in a classroom, I need to understand the composition of my students and monitor the behaviors and dynamics in my classroom. For a working environment or a social interaction, I need to be more aware, respectful and curious about different thoughts and preferences. I would also participate actively in volunteer activities that celebrate diversity, understand people’s different history, arts, as well as personal stories. This will be a very dynamic process. I am not clear about what a more inclusive and equitable future for me will be like. But I believe and look forward to a non-trivial effect both on other people and on myself.