Diversity Matters: Speaking the Same Language
Diversity in education matters, and it plays an important role in Pearson’s mission of helping people make more of their lives through learning. Our differences give us unique perspectives that can enrich our learning, work, and lives. This blog post is part of our Diversity Matters series exploring different perspectives on why diversity matters in education. For more commentary and resources on the importance of diversity, visit our Diversity and Access website.
Diversity matters because the world is becoming smaller every day. With all the modern forms of travel, employees and students are being sent abroad all the time. This is a great opportunity to see and learn about other cultures and have a better sense of the world on a global level. Experiencing diversity as a part of our college education can help prepare us for our professional jobs down the road. Even if we don’t go abroad, it is almost guaranteed we will work with people with different backgrounds, ethnicities, or different sets of values.
In my educational journey, this is something I have had to learn about in order to be successful. I never really understood all the ways diversity exists even in my own small campus, and in the beginning, I didn’t see the importance a diverse learning environment would be to my future success. But, the more experiences I had working with students who are different from me in a variety of ways, the more I saw the importance of those experiences and the many ways I could benefit from them. My experiences with diversity have varied from working with students from other countries to working with non-traditional students, students with physical disabilities, and students with simply different backgrounds and values than myself. Overall, I feel like I have become a better leader, student, and person by working with all types of students.
One experience in particular is a great example of diversity; I was involved in a group project for an online class. My group consisted of five people, two were non-traditional students with full-time jobs and families, and another was from a different country. It took a little while for our group to figure out how to complete each step in the project, and communicate effectively. I definitely became more aware of how many shortcuts or technical terms we use in our communication every day. Making sure we were communicating using terms that everyone understood took a lot of effort. Sometimes it felt like we were not speaking the same language.
We also had some very different ideas about when communication should happen, the communication methods we should use, and when work should be contributed. The non-traditional students preferred early morning or early evening communication via email or phone calls, while the other traditional students and I preferred text messages and late evening for communicating.
At the time, I had never run into an issue with communicating at different times and through different means. This was the first time where I felt that, as part of a working group, we needed to give our backgrounds and explain some terms and rules in order to move forward productively. Once we made it through our initial communication challenges, we became productive and successful. From this experience, I have learned the importance of considering how the diversity of a group can impact something so essential as communication. Next time around, I will not take it for granted.
Haylee is pursuing a degree in Business Administration and a degree in Health Care Systems Administration at Ferris State University. After college, she plans on getting her Master’s and working in a hospital. Haylee is involved in many extracurricular activities that keep her busy. She spends her time after class playing intramurals, working as a Teachers’ Assistant, and hanging out with friends. Some organizations Haylee is involved in include: the Student Advisory Council for the College of Health Professions, Health Care Management Association, the Honors’ Program, and Alpha Xi Delta. When Haylee finds some free time, she enjoys reading and playing sports. Haylee has played soccer since she was three and loves to play whenever she gets a chance.