In this brave new world of 21st century, diversity is one of the things that we need to embrace. And to enable us to develop our consciousness towards diversity, we must learn perpetuate ourselves to constant learning and change. And with this, comes a vast new ways of practice to be able to fully equip yourself on how you are supposed to react and behave to different situations wherever you may be.
As we have learned, the development of diversity consciousness is divided into six areas namely examining ourselves and our worlds, expanding our knowledge of others and their worlds, stepping outside of ourselves, gauging the level of the playing field, checking up on ourselves and following through.
Despite the fact that we may have studied and learned about the history not only of our country but of the whole world, it is not enough to fully understand people’s lifestyles and customs. Once you go to another country or another part of the world you will then get a better picture of what diversity is all about. You may have similarities but you will notice that majority of it is the palpable differences that you and the new world you are in.
As for me, I think the most challenging that I will have to battle in developing my diversity consciousness would be the second strategy which is expanding our knowledge of others and their worlds and the fourth one which is gauging the level of the playing field.
First, let’s tackle about expanding our knowledge of others and their worlds. Learning from reading or researching alone about one country and their culture is not adequate for you to be able to understand the culture of one’s country for example. Whatever you may have read would help you in understanding their beliefs and characteristics and even the history behind their attitude but since the world is continuously changing, people likewise change accordingly. Thus, it is better for you
to experience their culture to enable you to understand more about their diversity. Travelling and visiting other countries sound very fascinating and exciting but once you reach your destination that is the time you will understand more about the significance of diversity consciousness. It does not take a day or two for you to be able to understand one new culture which makes it very challenging. Language barrier is one of the most difficult things to conquer first. Not all countries speak English and if you go to a place wherein they don’t use English, conveying your message to your receiver is like an Achilles Hill. It’s frustrating that sometimes you will end up using sign language just for you to deliver your message which in most cases 100% comprehensible. Moreover, some other countries have practices which are very foreign to us that we find it irritating at first if you don’t understand them well. It could be something very different from your upbringing which you find offensive but is normal to them. Decreasing social distance may be challenging but it helps s lot in the betterment of your relationship with the other race. This may take time if you are not ready to let go and embrace changes to enable to create a better understanding and harmonious relationship with another race. There are customs you need to embrace and customs you need to let loose for you to give space for understanding other cultures as well. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to forget and let go of the traits and beliefs you have learned and have become accustomed to, it just means that you have to let yourself be available of understanding and embracing new practices that you may encounter. It is like loosening the barrier between two worlds for you to be able to understand each other. This may be difficult at first since you are not accustomed to the traits and practices of another culture and you may find it hard to embrace it , but opening yourself to understanding other culture will make it easier to make your relationship with the other culture harmoniously.
Next is gauging the level of playing field. I find this challenging because it is undeniable that until now we are fighting how we are going to end the battle of inequality. This issue has been a perennial problem not only to one part of the world but to the different parts of the world. As we are constantly being exposed to the advantages and disadvantages tied to the social inequality, it becomes more arduous to gauge the level of the playing field. Despite the fact that the author mentioned how we have failed to discover the number of advantages we have, it is inevitable that the disadvantages outshine the advantages. Ageism for instance is a very common dilemma that many people are facing. It is in fact undeniable that some places or institution discriminates people according to their age and not through their race or capability. Thus, as people age, they become more stressed about how they would be able to keep their job. I find this an exigent since, inequality happens everywhere. Discrimination is ever present to our society and not only does it mean socially but it encompasses a vast field where you might find yourself inferior to one thing one way or another.
Once you step out of your comfort zone, at first you will be scared and would even want to go back. Myriads of questions will arise. How much more when you have to embrace the diversity of our world? It does not happen in an instant. It happens overtime and sometimes you will learn and understand the hard way.
I believe that putting yourself in learning in any multicultural setting would help you a lot in attaining diversity consciousness. We should put aside the prejudices you have made over one thing or situation. It would be help a lot if we try to let go of our know-it –all egos and surrender our minds to be able to soak up everything like the sponge- like minds of a child. Let us absorb everything we learn and then dissect which among those conform with your norms and beliefs, which among those needs to be embraced to create a harmonious relationship with your peers and which among those you must respect while keeping your own beliefs and practices. We live in a very complicated world. We have different beliefs, customs and practices. Some of them are interesting and new to us while some of them do not conform to your upbringing. Travelling is a very liberating experience. It opens your door to much cultural diversity which is very fascinating. It is undeniable though, that at times you are shocked with the way other cultures live their lives but that is part of being conscious to the diversity going on. You do not keep yourself fenced inside one norm; the norm you have learned and how you were brought up.
Next is to remember that your own life experiences are one of many important sources of knowledge. Reading and watching television are very educational especially when it is about one country or even different countries which tackle about the lifestyle, geography, and culture of one country. However, being there, travelling and visiting one particular country is a way more liberating experience to savour. Once you get to experience the country by yourself, you will find out that there are more to learn and know about than what we have just read about one particular place. Change is constant, but the facts in the books do not change constantly. It takes years before they update, and before you know it, what is really happening in the world is way beyond what has been written in the text. You learn a lot of things by experiencing the diversity we are talking about. The experience is beyond any word can explain. Life is too short to waste over worrying about how you are different from another and why they can’t be like you. Try to embrace change and step out of your comfort zone. It’s time we become conscious of the ever- present diversity happening around us.
Richard D. Bucher. The Challenge of Diversity Consciousness. Diversity Consciousness 2nd Edition.