I am… diverse?

Coming from a foreign country, I have always been considered to be part of the university’s diversity. I am an international student from Malaysia, and if you look at my ethnicity, I would say I am Chinese. I am, really. I am a third (at least I think I am) generation Malaysian-born Chinese studying here at the University of Mount Union. I was raised a Buddhist and currently have no religious affiliations. I am under the “still looking” category when it comes to religion. I wear correctional lenses for astigmatism. I am heterosexual but have great friends who are homosexuals and I respect them. I speak English, Malay and three different Chinese dialects. So yes, I do consider myself pretty diverse.

But am I?

The University of Mount Union hosted the 5th Annual Not Another Statistic Conference on Saturday, November 17. Organized by the Diversity Council, the conference hosted students from nearby colleges. The conference promotes diversity and aims to educate participants about the various issues that pertain to each of the organizations within the council.

The Diversity Council is a coalition of diversity organizations that includes:

Association of International Students (AIS), Association of Women Students (AWS), Black Student Union (BSU), Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), Hispanic Organization Latino America (HOLA), Spiritual Life Leadership (SLL) and See The Ability Not Disability (STAND)

Being part of the planning process and helping out at the conference expanded my perception on what diversity is. I also had the opportunity to meet and observe people from (literally) all walks of life. It made me think about how diverse I really am.

What is diversity?

Though I may be, in many ways, diverse, I feel that I am not. Sure, I may be a minority here, but back in Malaysia, well, technically I am also a minority back there, but you get my point. Back in Malaysia, I may not be as diverse as I am considered to be here. Diversity isn’t about being multiracial. Diversity isn’t about being different. I think to be diverse is to be open to people who are different from you.

For that, I am guilty. When I look at myself and the people around me, I am not so diverse after all. I consider this to be one of my biggest regrets in college. Being a transfer student and only having two years here, I feel as though I have spent most of my time in college surrounding myself with people who are like me. Of course, your closest friends would (most of the time) be people like you, but that does not mean that you cannot associate yourself with people who are different. That will change.

This semester, due to personal reasons, I have realized that I am more open to people than I had been for the past three semesters. Though I had refused to admit it, I do judge people way too often and that stops me from being open. People should stop caring about things like race and religion, gay or straight and what kind of disability one has. Easier said than done, I know, but at the end of the day, we are only human. I wish people could see that. Even though I don’t have this mentality daily. I should, really.

The world is becoming less segregated. We are at a time where people move around the world. We are witnessing the world transform into one big family. So the next time you see someone who is different from who you are, stop trying to spot the differences between you and that individual. Instead, walk over, say hi and be open. We all live in the same world. Make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race. Now where have I heard that line before?

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