I’ve been a college student for less than a month, and already I can tell the word “diversity” is regular vocabulary on campus.
Since my very first encounter with “diversity,” I’ve felt out of place in the conversation. I told myself I had nothing to contribute, nothing to bring to the table. Why? Because I’m a white female from Northwest Indiana who was raised on a suburban ranch by a cookie-cutter nuclear family.
I always thought my place in the diversity conversation was to sit back and “soak up” the multicultural expertise of others. Little did I know how ridiculously wrong I was. Sometimes I think we are so wrapped up in the obvious signs of diversity that we forget about the most important kinds of it – thought, ideas.
Despite the similarities we might have in gender, race, creed, ethnicity or really anything at all, ultimately we are individuals, we all think differently, and thus we all have the ability to learn from one another.
It’s so rudimentary, and to be honest I feel a little bit silly writing a column about this, but somehow it’s something we manage to forget and fail to recognize all the time.
However, I’ve also noticed that oftentimes when people meet for the first time they immediately search for similarity in thought. And the more similar they are, it seems the greater chance there is for friendship.
I see it all the time. We advocate for diversity, yet in routine circumstances tend to embrace likeness. If we truly want to call ourselves a diverse and harmonious people, we can’t shy away from those who think differently.
Diversity is important to our daily interactions, and it shouldn’t be treated as anything less. In formal settings diversity is the gem of humanity, but this attitude simply isn’t reflected in everyday conversation.
What’s sad is that many potentially enriching conversations aren’t happening because when we aren’t promoting diversity, we’re made uncomfortable by difference.
Diversity in thought is so often overlooked, yet it’s the most vital kind. Thoughts and ideas are what make us all unique, thus we all have something to contribute.
If meeting new people and preparing for college has taught me anything, it’s that we all belong in the diversity conversation.