What do you have to say about Diversity?
Do you feel strongly about diversity? Make your opinion heard. Let us know at isf@slu.edu
Descartes famously declared, "I think, therefore I am", but culture defines what what a person really is. Every person is a product (victim, to the pessimist) of his or her circumstances. I am an Indian, and I was brought up in a liberal, broad-minded household.
I used to look upon the multiplicity of culture as something that slows down the progress of the human race. Wouldn't we be greater and more advanced if we all worked together? In the eighth grade, I had a heated discussion with my History teacher about the purpose of having so many countries. I wanted to know why humanity didn't evolve as just one culture, one race. I was extremely troubled by the fact that so many countries had problems with each other, and why they fought so much. In frustration, I said, "Why can't we get along? Why should we clash? If we weren't so different, we'd get along so well. I wish we were all alike." I earned a stern rebuke from my teacher, and my question remained unanswered.
I have spent one year in another country, for the first time in my life. I had never been outside India previously. I have seen many different cultures in that one year, though not as many as I would have liked to, but more cultures than I have ever encountered in person. I now know the answer to that question. People aren't as alike as I thought they were, and yet, they aren't as different either. I find it hard to imagine life without so many cultures. If you had told me two years ago that I would have an American (a guy of Irish-German descent, who has spent half his life in Germany) as my roommate, living in my own apartment, away from my parents, by the age of 18, I would have laughed out loud. If you had told me that I would have friends from America, Spain, Vietnam, Poland, France, Germany, China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Africa, the Carribean or any of the other countries that have students in SLU, I would ask you if you had smoked anything funny.
I now look at this world, with love. I see a world filled with differences, and diversity. I see world where, with the conflict that so often accompanies diversity, love dominates. I failed to see the good side of the coin. I admire the friendship, the love, the colors, the faces, the personalities, the accents, everything that makes our world the beautiful place that it is. Whatever ugliness the world may hold, the beauty in our world outweighs the ugliness by far. I feel like a person who has just woken up after a long nap. I've broken out of my shell. I feel alive.
Rehan is a sophomore studying aerospace/mechanical engineering.
When people think of culture, they usually think of exotic places, strange food, colorful dresses, weird accents, and, in other words, something out of ordinary. But if this is culture and diversity, how many people see these things on a day to day basis? Our life would be quite a drag, really!
I think of diversity as a new way of looking at things. A butterfly fluttering outside could just be a random insect being itself. Or it could be something that, even for a second, will make you appreciate the beauty in the world. A book could
be a book, filled with words and words. Or it could be a way to be transported into someone else's world. It could be the colorful world of a geisha in Japan. Or it could be the dull and boring life of your next-door neighbor. But it is a world different from yours. That's diversity right there.
For me, diversity isn't necessarily a cultural phenomenon. It eventually describes difference in experience. Living a different experience in an exotic land is wonderful. But, you cannot always go trekking around the world, unfortunately. Just talk to one person who looks at life in a different way. You’ve had your diversity for the day!
Praneetha is a Junior studying Biology and Computer Science