Embrace Diversity! (Wait, what does diversity mean?)

Jeff Smith

On college campuses nationwide, students are encouraged to embrace diversity the moment they arrive. But what does that even mean? In the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Emmanuel College, we define diversity as the differences among people with respect to age, class, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, religion, and many other aspects of human identity. We celebrate the differences in all people and we believe human beings are our best when we seek to learn from one another’s experiences. If you are curious about how you can embrace diversity, here are some suggestions:

“The human experience is most powerful when people discover their shared experiences as opposed to dwelling on their differences.”

Jeff Smith, Jr., Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion/MultiCultural Programs

Attend lectures, programs and events covering topics you’re unfamiliar with. Academic departments and student organizations frequently invite guests to campus! Sit in on a visiting lecturer while she discusses her research in another country, watch a dancer move to the music of his community at a cultural celebration, or join an organization that addresses issues you want to learn more about.

Visit local restaurants, stores and neighborhoods in Boston. One of the advantages of being in a place like Boston is the proximity to the thousands of different cultures represented in the city. Enjoy restaurants serving food from different parts of the world. Find gorgeous parks and landmarks to visit in any of Boston’s unique neighborhoods. Students and professionals from every country on Earth learn, work, live, and play in the city of Boston, so experience the city’s magnetism for yourself!

Led by the Office of Student Affairs and Multicultural Programs, Emmanuel annually hosts International Hospitality Night, an event that celebrates cultures worldwide and showcases performances from various local groups.

Build meaningful connections with people from different backgrounds. If a student enrolls in a college looking to foster relationships with people who look and think like them, we believe they are missing a major opportunity! Building friendships with people from different communities helps us grow. Also, these relationships and connections may be valuable after college as diverse networks often lead to more career opportunities!

Listen to each other. Share your story. Develop empathy and compassion. Listening to other people’s stories is essential to embracing diversity. Finding spaces to share experiences and build trust leads to greater empathy. The human experience is most powerful when people discover their shared experiences as opposed to dwelling on their differences.

Maintain mutual respect. Eliminate discrimination, intolerance and hate. As we strive to embrace diversity, we must ensure that we all respect each other’s differences and experiences. Members from our community come from many places and it is important to understand that we are not always going to agree on everything! However, it is even more important to establish that no one will be disrespected, belittled or discriminated against in our community for any reason. Discrimination, intolerance, and hate have no place on our campus.

Need more advice on how to embrace diversity? Do you have tips and ideas to share with us? Stop by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion located in Marian Hall 222. All are welcome!

The wall outside of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Emmanuel College showcases wall art reading “All Are Welcome,” serving as a reminder that the Center and the College celebrate diversity at Emmanuel and beyond.
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Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith is the Associate Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion/Chief Diversity Officer and Deputy Title IX Coordinator at Emmanuel College. He has been employed at Emmanuel since 2014 and thoroughly enjoys working with Emmanuel students. He works in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion where they embrace diversity, promote inclusion and pursue equity. Jeff loves his family, his Ohio sports teams, hip-hop, and good books!