In class this week we had a guest speaker, Mohammed Bey, who is the director of the Office of Global and Multicultural Education here at Quinnipiac. His purpose in coming was to open up a discussion on diversity. Everyone hears the word “diversity” but often don’t really understand the meaning of it and all the complexity involved. Diversity is the combination of differences in race, ethnicity, language, religion, culture, upbringing, etc. It is based from multiple aspects of individuality.
Mohammed challenged us to a brain teaser sort of game. He had us line up single file, 5 people facing the door and the other 5 with their backs to the door. the key was to move each person to the other side of the room. There were rules limiting our movement, but what made it difficult was that I along with 2 other students were unable to speak. The inability to speak restricted our involvement which became very frustrating because at times I had an idea but could not vocalize it. This demonstrated the diversity around the world and some individuals who have communication or language barriers in their everyday life.
I have been in very few situations in my life where I have had a communication issue. It is often very beneficial being a white, English speaking American. For those who do not speak English in America it can be very difficult.
I had a situation in my nursing clinical at Middlesex Hospital where I had a patient who only spoke Spanish. Having taken Spanish in middle and high school I was able to understand some of what the patient was saying and communicate with her, but it was still very difficult and frustrating. In a situation like this where the patient is in pain and trying to express it to receive appropriate care, it is extremely frustrating. Luckily we had an interpreter who was able to break the language barrier so effective care could be provided. I believe that it is important for everyone to have some understanding of these differences and have ways of overcoming them.
In our discussion of diversity Mohammed brought up the differences that exist still within our own country. He asked us to think of a situation in which we felt someone was being racially unjust and we were uncomfortable with it. One situation we all have experienced was the use of the “n” word. I have heard it used in songs, movies and by peers. For me I feel that the word, although not always meant to be harmful is still inappropriate and can be interpreted as harmful to some.
Understanding how one feels in certain situations is very difficult but being immersed in others’ cultures and experiencing the differences first hand can really be important. I look forward to experiencing this in South Africa and taking back some understanding of what it is like to be a white or black person living there.