Diversity encompasses the values of acceptance as well as respect and it recognizes individual differences. Diversity is a mutual understanding that each individual is unique in their own way and it is about moving beyond tolerance in order to embrace and celebrate these differences. Diversity encompasses several areas such as the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, and/or other ideologies. Diversity allows for exploration in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment and it is a commitment to appreciating the beauty of individual and unique characteristics.
Everyone is included and connected through diversity in various ways. Classifications are made based upon the simplest characteristics which is why diversity is incorporated throughout every day life as well. I have had several experiences related to diversity, especially since I grew up going to school in a very diverse district. My graduating class consisted of 770 students and every single person was unique in their own way. My school was made up of a vast variety of races, ethnicities, and students from families with all different socioeconomic statuses. I have witnessed or heard about a few fights break out due to the differences of races and the people amongst those groups. It is sad to say that these situations due occur, and most often they are in a school setting. However; for the most part, I have experienced several positive situations dealing with diversity as well.
Our athletic programs were extremely diverse and consisted of student-athletes of all races and ethnicities. I believe that my experience playing sports with people of all different backgrounds was a more influential and effective compared to other schools who were not as diverse and unique as us. Playing with athletes that were from different homes, different, backgrounds, and who had different traditions was a learning experience and helped open my eyes to all the possibilities there are in the world. We have played against teams that were predominantly white or predominantly black and hispanic together, though I feel that our equal mix of diversity helped shape us into the individuals we are today.
At an early age I learned to accept and embrace diversity compared to most people. My younger cousin is African American and was adopted by my Aunt and Uncle about seven years ago. Naturally people will stare in the mall or at an unfamiliar grocery store, though I believe it is only because they are curious of our story. The adoption of my cousin is one of the greatest experiences and miracles that could have happened to my family and we are so happy that he is apart of our life.
Through my experience teaching I have encountered various scenarios of diversity. For one, the school district in which I completed my fieldwork observations in for EDU 256, there was not a mixture of races and different ethnicities. The school which I observed mainly consisted of students who were white and the only diversity they shared was the differences amongst their own personalities, interests, and looks. These diversities still stood out amongst the students, even though they are not as noticeable compared to color and backgrounds. I noticed that the students were still unique and different based upon the people they hung out with, the clothes they wore, and the way in which they behaved. I never knew that diversity could include such a broad set of differences and through observing in this school district, the students quickly helped me to realize their uniqueness.
Diversity is extremely important to have within a community, an athletic team, and/or a school district. Diversity helps students understand the different cultural backgrounds and it teaches them to accept others for who they are. Uniqueness is one of the most important qualities a person can maintain. Being able to be yourself for who you are and being an individual is one of the greatest and most respected characteristics. Diversity should be embraced more and it should definitely be taught and talked about more throughout schools. I believe having an understanding and appreciation for diversity is extremely important for all to be aware of.