is a fact of life. We will find it in people that we
in people we believe are ‘different' from us. We are all unique
and are different in some aspect - it can be in thoughts and
perceptions, physical looks, cultures, and beliefs.
Our perceptions play a great role in differentiating people with whom
we associate. From the great pool of diversity, we select groups of
people with whom we would rather associate. We consider these people to
be ‘similar' to us and consider all the rest to be ‘different.' And how
we communicate with these people is greatly affected by how we interpret
what we know, see, hear, and believe about them, their culture,
physical ability, sexual orientation, and beliefs. We seldom test these
perceptions we hold true. And in most cases, we don't even try because
we don't see why we should.
I would like to tell you there are more reasons why we should embrace diversity than why we shouldn't.
Examples abound of nations around the world that haven't recognized
the value of diversity of their people and who have internal conflict
and war. If we are to learn from these examples, we should learn that
failing to accept and value our diversity is a threat to our society.
In a global environment that is growing closer each day and where
different cultures and backgrounds are mixing, we can no longer afford a
segregated view of the world. Today, more than ever, we find cultures
intermixing, countries doing business with other countries, and people
living and working in nations different than their own. Businesses today
represent environments where diversified ways of looking at the world
are regarded as sources of competitive advantage.
Diversity offers us numerous opportunities to grow and expand our
perspectives. You might want to take a trip to Africa, or perhaps do
business in Japan, or live in South America. You might want to learn
about different cultures, understand why people think and believe the
way they do, and see the world through different prisms. In the process,
you will learn a great deal not only about the world but also about
In the end, the perceptions we have about others being different from
us might prove to be just perceptions. The reality might be that those
we label as different might me much like us, but we'll never know unless
we try. Interact with people from different backgrounds in the
discovery of yourself - and the world around you.
When we focus on our differences, we build walls. When we focus on
our similarities, we build bridges of communication and understanding.
And as we progress, we will find the bridges we built were excellent
investments in our lives.
I encourage you to join us as we build bridges and celebrate our diversity!
Dr. Carolyn M. Dunn
Associate Vice President for Institutional Diversity