How to Unite in a Time of Division? Diversity and Education.

I am unsurprised by the US election results and the sweeping global movement towards more xenophobic approaches to governance (see Brexit and France for reference).

Though this shift does not shock me, I am still taken aback by how it has inundated news with fearful rhetoric. What disturbs me the most is the potent ‘us versus them’ narrative in headlines, video clips, and in our collective psyche.

While upset by this outcome, I am also finding inspiration to consider what resources led me to be someone who celebrates diversity, instead of fearing it.

When I was young, I had a book called People by Peter Spier. This beautifully illustrated book taught me that people, no matter our sizes, colors, locations, religions, languages or cultures, are important and valuable.

I vividly remember reading the book and being in awe with how different humans can be. It was an incredible experience to be so engaged with this book. Aside from my other favorite book, The Giving Tree, People undoubtedly shaped my worldview.

Leveraging my childhood curiosity led me to embark on a number of world travels that have expanded my grasp of how needed (and how beautiful) diversity is. Traveling to foreign countries is a privilege that I take very seriously.

When I was in India in 2013, I spent over a month volunteering at a children’s home. Based on linking the tourists to local social issues, the home featured a tourist-serving cafe that engaged visitors with the challenges of being a parent-less child in India.

I volunteered in the cafe’s kitchen, which consisted of a motley crew of global tourists, and adults and children from across India. Together, we spent hot days cooking, cleaning, and serving food. Through our labor, we taught one another about who we were and where we came from.

We each had different reasons that brought us to that home, but each of us had the same hope - that each child there would gain access to education and opportunity, no matter their background.

Building communities filled with individuals who are accepting of and who honor the differences of others is our most sustainable pathway to change. To get there, we need to create global opportunities that promote cultural diversity. Commitment to cultural acceptance and educational vitality is actualized when organizations and communities unite.

In a time that is incredibly fraught with hateful rhetoric and divisive policy platforms, it is our duty to ensure that education access, and exposure to culturally diversity is central to our theory of change. We need to celebrate our differences, not fear them.

My work is a small step to crack the divisive rhetoric that separates us. But, as I have learned, with each action we take to accept and celebrate our differences, the closer we come together, as people.

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