As we learned in class, diversity exists through “the differences we all have that make us the unique individuals that we all are.” Many individuals do not truly experience diversity until they enter college. On the contrary, some experience much diversity in their lifetime, yet never come to appreciate it. Although one might say that Baldwin Wallace University is ethnically diverse, diversity is not limited to race or gender. There are many other factors, such as religious beliefs, political ideologies, national origin, and sexual orientation. In my personal experience, I have encountered varying levels of diversity. Although I have met many people due to my father’s service in the Air Force, much of my childhood was spent in self-inflicted isolation due to the fear of not being accepted. As an African-American raised in predominantly white suburbs with more extraverted peers, being surrounded by individuals from multiple backgrounds (instead of all of my peers having many things in common with each other, but not with me) may have helped me when I was growing up to understand that my differences were meant to be celebrated, not to be ashamed of. My experience living in a community with a lack of diversity in personality and ethnicity has helped me develop into who I am today, however; looking back on the years spent worrying about the opinions of others from a distance, I can realize that most of the judgment we as humans believe we will endure from those different from us is irrational. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that each and every person come to an understanding of what diversity is, and what they can do to ensure that others will be able to feel comfortable expressing themselves without the fear of condemnation.
Here at Baldwin Wallace, I believe that there is an accepting, lively community where anyone can feel like they belong. In my first few weeks here, I already felt like I had become a part of a large, supportive family. I found myself surrounded with friends of many different academic majors, from Music Education to International Studies to Business Administration. My classmates are from several different geographic locations as well, which often contribute to the way individuals view the world. Because of our vast differences, we have been able to enlighten each other on our perspectives on important issues, reminding each other that not one specific perspective is right or wrong; after all, our perspectives are based on just that—perspective.
Some say that the world would be a better place if we ignored each other’s differences and began to function as one singular unit. However, in order to enhance diversity in our communities, we must acknowledge our differences and use them to teach one another to find value in everything. Through the lessons we may learn from each other, we can make our world a kinder, more harmonious place. After all, one man alone cannot create a harmony; it takes two individuals or more. Furthermore, a harmony cannot be created through everyone singing or playing the same note; instead, we each bring a beautiful noise through the varying talents and interests that we have. One person cannot create a chord without the help of others, just as much as humanity cannot thrive without collaboration, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, or ideology. Instead, in order to make this world into a more harmonious place, we must understand that as individuals, we only represent one note in the symphony; it is the works of those around us that inspire us to become greater each morning.