SDO: Appreciation of Differences
Blog Author: Sophie Johnson, Sophomore Psychology Major, College of Liberal Arts. Student employee in College of Education & Human Development.
Throughout job interviews and applications, you will see that appreciation of differences and knowledge about diversity is an important aspect for any position. From Walgreens to the big leagues, your employers are looking for people who can effectively communicate differences and refrain from creating conflict for their own amusement. We’ve all experienced these questions, and being able to talk about experiences where you overcame personal differences can make or break that interview.
A way to increase opportunities where you interact with different types of people is leaving your “comfort zone.” In many cases your first few days, weeks, even months on campus can be a completely different zone in and of itself. You first arrive and meet many new people, but you can often fall into a group and have them be the only people you interact with. Activities like student employment can help, but even then you have often fallen into a comfort zone. I’m talking about those evenings where you’re chilling in bed, and you know you should attend a club meeting, or an event you’re interested in, but you’re struggling to find the motivation.
It’s hard after a long day, but I encourage you to go attend that meeting. Take an opportunity that’s presented to you but you’re nervous to attend because your friends refuse to go because they’re “busy” a.k.a. it’s Netflix time. Take that chance to meet new people and be forced into a situation where you have to sit next to someone new. Allow yourself to be open to challenges that may frighten and intimidate you.
I think there’s been a lot of conversation about creating dialogue and understanding between different groups of people lately. Be it gender, religion, race, ethnicity, or sexuality, college is a time to open yourself up to new thought processes, ideas, and ideals. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you think in a different way, but more importantly, take the time to listen intently and whole-heartedly to what others are saying. Take their opinions into consideration; continue to speak with them and others about topics you may be passionate about, or topics you’re interested in. Read articles and talk about them, in class or research meetings or just hanging out, enjoy the chances the university provides you with. Apply to attend the Social Justice Leadership Retreat over winter break, take a class about social justice, or a class about different cultures, religions and sexualities. Attend a multi-cultural event or holiday celebration, challenge yourself to see the University in a different way.
I know I spend a lot of time just trying to keep up with the friends I’ve made so far, but I find myself reflecting back on situations where I took a risk the most. Alone or with a friend, make the effort to get to know people with different values and beliefs by being understanding and respectful. Take that leap while you have the chance, enjoy the opportunities, and gain new stories to tell.