Shoreline Community College is an incredibly diverse campus where students from many different parts of the world come to learn and experience — and given the fact that SCC is located in such a comparatively small city and that it has a fairly small population, this truly says a lot about Shoreline’s ongoing effort to promote diversity throughout the college.
Every day in the morning, I walk on our campus and I see people of different race, age, skin color and national origin, but the unseen are their life experiences.
I don’t think Shoreline is a really inclusive school, at least of now, despite its diversity. I’m not referring to the existing programs — Shoreline has many wonderful, culturally inclusive programs with fantastic missions, such as the Multicultural Center — it is a really wonderful initiative that encourages cultural awareness and it truly tries to bring students, faculty, staff and everyone in the Shoreline community together to connect, share, engage and improve with each other both academically and socially.
Potentially because of the increasing number of international students, cultural barriers increase as well — I’ve seen lots of students from the same country/region gathering and doing almost everything together: studying, going to class, hanging out, etc. at all times. They do not want to get out of their comfort zone to reach out and interact with others because they are afraid they will not be accepted. I think this happens also because the environment is not inclusive enough that it can really encourage us all to engage and support each other.
I think, too, oftentimes we label others stereotypically solely based on their “ascribed status” — when we see an Asian student, we feel he must be good at math, but we don’t know the hundreds and thousands of hours he devoted into the subject; when we see an African student, we feel he must be good at sports and doesn’t study, but we don’t know how hard he worked to get to where he is today.
To me, as a political asylum seeker and because of my personal experience, in the past years of my life I have developed a heartfelt passion in social justice and human rights issues. It is also because of my experience that I am able to understand more about the importance of diversity and inclusion. When students with a wide range of talents, personalities and life stories come together, more ideas can be generated from more perspectives and the pressing problems of our time can potentially be solved at a faster pace.
Diversity makes the society more prosperous and inclusion makes the world more harmonious. The planet we live on today wouldn’t exist without them.
I remember a quote from Arlien Johnson, the founding director of University of Washington School of Social Work, who said: “Social change is inevitable, but human needs are the same from one generation to another.”
Diversity and inclusion are two of the most critical needs throughout human history.
I have faith in the future of humanity. On campus, I believe that if every single one of us contributes a little bit, even it just means saying good morning to a stranger walking toward you on the street, giving compliments to people who seem to be having a bad day, or helping new international students with things they need… Oftentimes, it is really difficult to accept others because of our past experiences or once formed firm perceptions. But with many, many baby steps, together we will be able to improve the environment.
And, as stated in a research study: “It is this collective mix of differences that make the colleges and universities in America among the best in the world.”
Always embrace the beauty of diversity, strive for the sense of inclusion, our campus will surely be a more supportive and compassionate community that will provide opportunities for a richer and more rewarding educational experience beneficial for us all.