I grew up in a moderate size town in South Dakota. Looking back now, my environment was very safe and comfortable. but also created a certain naivety within me. My parents, now married for 50+ years, created a safe and comfortable environment, paying for private Catholic school, with a beautiful home, nice clothes and always a good meal. (My Mom is an AMAZING cook!) Yes my sister and I were lucky to have loving parents who instilled in us a sense of pride in our country, culture and work ethic.
My Mother is my inspiration, with strength of character, (She’s quite stubborn actually) and a heart of gold, a wonderful combination. She led by example, volunteering with Hospice, and working in a nursing home. She gives her all in everything she does and would do anything for anyone. I watch her now, as she cares for my 100 year old Grandmother, and my heart bursts with pride. My love of God and my fellow man come from her. From my Dad comes my empathy for others. Despite all of the traveling he had to do for his job as I was growing up, he was always at my side, comforting me when things weren’t going quite right.
In 1992, I married my best friend and love of my life. I took what I learned from my parents and entered the big bad world, still a naive South Dakotan, but that would change. Our first taste of a new culture was as teachers on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Central South Dakota, home of the Lakota American Indians. We learned to love these beautiful souls, who were giving and kind. They taught me to love our planet, Mother Earth, and accept the differences in others. It was here that I began to understand that even though we are all different, we are all one, unified under God, one of their core beliefs.
About 3 years after I was married, my husband and I moved to the East coast. Talk about culture shock! We moved from, South Dakota, population 700,000, and one of the poorest counties in the country, to a densely populated city and one of the richest areas of the county. We moved from a laid back and relaxed atmosphere to the stress and fast pace of the big city. Here I learned patience for others. (Something I’m still working on!)
In 2003, we set out on a new adventure. Armed with the knowledge from my parents, the wisdom from the Lakota people, and patience, we moved to England where we lived for about 3 1/2 years. This was an interesting time. We lived in a small village in England and traveled all over Europe, exploring its diverse cultures and beautiful people. While in England, I learned to love discovering the diversity of our planet. However, at the same time, the love of my own culture and country deepened profoundly. I was no longer that naive South Dakota girl, but a world traveler. It was during this time that I learned an EXTREMELY IMPORTANT LESSON, one I wish to pass on to all of you.
The lesson I learned in England was one of CULTURAL DIVERSITY. Why is this such an important lesson? Cultural diversity means “the existence of a variety of cultural or ethnic groups within a society.” This means we accept and respect ALL nationalities, cultures, beliefs, religions, languages, and traditions of other humans, while honoring our own. It means we don’t have to give up our culture or nationality to unite as humans or to come together as a planet. Embracing a nationality or culture doesn’t mean you dismiss others, it simply means you are honoring your own.
So for today’s MOTIVATION MONDAY, I am celebrating diversity, honoring my own nationality, and accepting the different beliefs and cultures of those around me.
To celebrate this day, I present to you the song CELEBRATION, performed by children from around the world.
In my search for things to include in this post, I discovered the following poem I’d like to share with you. There is a jpg image at the bottom of the page, along with a PDF version, in case you’d like a copy.
I am Diversity
By: Charles Bennafield
I ‘m present in every place you go
Depending on your lens I’m friend or foe
I’m a force to be reckoned with
Like the winds of change I move. I’m swift.
I’m present when two or more are together
If embraced I can make the good even better.
I’m not limited to age, gender, or race.
I’m invisible at times and yet all over the place.
Don’t exclude me due to a lack of knowledge
Welcome me like the recruit fresh out of college.
Let me take my seat at the table
Even though I may be differently able
My experience, my passion the authentic me
Can help add value for your company.
Learn about me; improve my underrepresentation
And I can provide a competitive edge to your entire nation.
I exclude no one I am strengthened by all
My name is Diversity and yes I stand tall.
Recognize me and keep me in the mix
Together there’s no problem that we can’t fix.
I am your best hope towards true innovation
And to many, I reflect hope and inspiration.
Your lives and companies will continue to change
Thus the need for Diversity and Inclusion will also remain.
Do all that you can to truly embrace me
And experience life’s fullness totally
I’m the thought lurking behind the unfamiliar face
I’m the ingenuity that helps your team win the race.
I’m the solution that came from the odd question that was asked.
I stand out in the crowd when I, Diversity, am allowed to be unmasked.
I’m diversity embrace me and we’ll journey far.
I’m Diversity include me and we will reach the shining star.
Coupled with Inclusion our lights burn longer
Together we are smarter, better and stronger
I am Diversity
Yes, that’s me
Written 3/8/2012 for The Conference Board Diversity Boot Camp Spring 2012 team
Remember, cultural diversity means we embrace our differences. It means allowing others to honor their nationality and beliefs without expecting them to change. When someone honors their own culture, that doesn’t mean they are hateful or dismissive of others, it means they are proud of their country, culture and traditions. We have a beautiful world, full of beautiful souls. By accepting our differences, by allowing others to take pride in their country and heritage, by learning from each other, we can come together as a planet. We all love where we come from, every one of us. Let’s honor that, let’s embrace that. Let’s CELEBRATE OUR DIVERSITY!