One doesn’t train for diversity per se, it's a state of being, something you are, something you evolve into, something that’s deep within, and something you connect with in others in a quest of how to best implement it in this life.
Diversity and Inclusion work is an inner passion and a sense of being. Diversity is a team sport and a collective concept. You live, sleep, eat, drink, and think diversity. It’s there in your soul and the fiber of your being. It’s not a garment of clothing or accessory the one can put on or take off.
As I have connected the dots in my life diversity and inclusion was there when attending a Vietnamese class mates birthday party in elementary school. I truly wanted to attend the party because diversity is what I am. I’m so happy I attended because none of the other students she invited attended. At that time, I had no concept/knowledge of diversity and inclusion work. We both enjoyed the party and ate homemade rice for the celebration.
Diversity is studying French in Middle School and High School and falling in love with French culture and language. In fact, we loved it when our teacher said we could pick a French name for class. My French name of choice was Jacqueline.
Diversity is having your Hispanic middle school teacher take you to La Chatelaine in Upper Arlington in Ohio, to practice speaking French at a restaurant and eating French cuisine. Diversity is having your Caucasian American high school teacher volunteer to teach French 4 as a 1 one 1 class because she knows how much you love French.
Diversity is your African American high school English teacher giving you an assignment to attend the Gallery Hop in the Short North, Columbus, Ohio and write about culture and what you experienced at the event. The Gallery hop is amazing and interesting experience. An inner-city student attending art galleries and boutique shops was a new experience and a priceless experience.
Diversity was there when my Indian high school teacher organized a fashion show at a predominately black high school and those who participated in it loved it. I clearly remembering putting on one to the most beautiful Indian dresses and feeling a sense of home.
Diversity is when you decide to follow my heart and double major in Sociology and African American Studies in Undergraduate School at The Ohio State University. The coursework opened my mind to different leaders and role models such as Nelson Mandela, Frances Cress Welising, Toni Morrison, Steve Biko, and Kwame Nkrumah to name a few.
Diversity is studying Swahili in college to meet the language school requirement. I could have continued with French in college, but something said study a new language. To my surprise Swahili was one of the easiest languages to learn and also brought the feeling of this is home.
Diversity truly manifested when beginning my early career at a fortune 500 company and the company specifically named the work Diversity and Inclusion. Then realizing this was the career my soul wanted and the type of work the world needed. The question was how to get there?
So, I am happy to say my career/life has now intersected with diversity and inclusion work. For me Diversity and Inclusion is holistic approach and not at check off list. It is intertwined in all we do.