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Culture is that which shapes us; it shapes our identity and influences our behavior. Culture is our “way of being,” more specifically, it refers to the shared language, beliefs, values, norms, behaviors, and material objects that are passed down from one generation to the next.
Culture changes with time.
What is diversity?
The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. It’s about empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, education, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, national origin or other ideologies.
It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.
Diversity allows for the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It means understanding one another by surpassing simple tolerance to ensure people truly value their differences. This allows us both to embrace and also to celebrate the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual and place positive value on diversity in the community and in the workforce.
Power of diversity
Each individual in a community brings with them a diverse set of perspectives, work and life experiences, as well as religious and cultural differences. The power of diversity can only be unleashed and its benefits reaped when we recognize these differences and learn to respect, empower and value each individual irrelevant of their background.
Cultural diversity is a form of appreciating the differences in individuals.
Culture is the lens with which we evaluate everything around us; we evaluate what is proper or improper, normal or abnormal, through our culture. If we are immersed in a culture that is unlike our own we may experience culture shock and become disoriented when we come into contact with a fundamentally different culture. People naturally use their own culture as the standard to judge other cultures; however, passing judgment could reach a level where people begin to discriminate against others whose “ways of being” are different than their own—essentially, we tend to fear that which we do not understand.
Understanding culture diversity
Understanding that diversity includes not only ways of being but also ways of knowing;
Recognizing that personal, cultural and institutionalized discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while creating and sustaining disadvantages for others;
Diversity includes, therefore, knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong, yet are present in other individuals and groups.
Ways to understand cultural differences
It’s very easy to stick with what you know, rather than trying to meet people who are different from you. However, actively trying to understand and embrace cultural differences can open you up to a whole world of exciting new possibilities and experiences. Here’s some things you can do:
Become self- conscious
Work out your own beliefs, values and personal biases. Yes, it can be quite confronting, but by doing this you’ll be able to think about how these traits might impact on your approach to and understanding of differences.
Talk to people from different cultural background
Try and get to know them a bit better. You don’t necessarily have to ask them directly about their culture, but by getting to know them you’ll automatically find out more about their life and experiences.
Be more open-minded
Sometimes it’s not all that easy to gain an understanding of cultural difference, for whatever reason. In such situations, its best to just acknowledge that some people are different and to accept that that’s alright.
One of the best ways to experience and understand other cultures is to actually live among them. It might take a while to save for, but planning a trip overseas to a country you’re interested in can be the best way of opening yourself up to new cultures. Sometimes it doesn’t really need you to go abroad, a different city is just fine.
Even if you hear or read something about a certain culture, it’s important to realise that this doesn’t mean everyone from that particular background acts/thinks/believes the same thing. Just as not everyone you know has identical beliefs, people who come from different cultural backgrounds aren’t all a certain way, either.
Do not stereotype.
Why is culture diversity important?
Cultural diversity is important because;
We can learn from one another. Learning about other cultures helps us understand different perspectives within the world in which we live, and helps dispel negative stereotypes and personal biases about different groups.
Diverse cultural perspectives can inspire creativity and drive innovation.
Our culture influences the way in which we see the world. A variety of viewpoints along with the wide-ranging personal and professional experience of a community can offer new perspectives that inspire colleagues to see the workplace—and the world—differently.
In addition, cultural diversity helps us recognize and respect “ways of being” that are not necessarily our own. So that as we interact with others we can build bridges to trust, respect, and understanding across cultures. Furthermore, this diversity makes our country a more interesting place to live in. As people from diverse cultures contribute language skills, new ways of thinking, new knowledge, and different experiences.
How can you support cultural diversity?
Increase your level of understanding about other cultures by interacting with people outside of your own culture—meaningful relationships may never develop simply due to a lack of understanding.
When interacting with others who may not be proficient in English, recognize that their limitations in English proficiency in no way reflects their level of intellectual functioning. Avoid imposing values on others that may conflict or be inconsistent with cultures other than your own.
What does it mean to embrace diversity?
It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.
One of the biggest difficulties to overcome in understanding cultural differences is making judgements based on one opinion. Do your own research and make an effort to actually learn about people, instead of making broad-brush assessments.
Everyone is unique
The main thing to remember is that everyone, no matter what their cultural background, has different opinions, habits and ways of life. The sooner you accept that everyone is different, the easier it becomes to understand and embrace cultural differences.
“Diversity is the one true thing we have in common.
Celebrate it every day.”