Hamline Diversity Summit 2021

How does one approach the fact that we are all different? The Hamline Diversity Summit focused on just that.

Hayden Hayes, Reporter

The Hamline 2021 Diversity Summit focused on uniting individuals to celebrate their different backgrounds and the importance of valuing uniqueness. Hamline’s Multicultural Alliance and Hamline University Student Congress (HUSC) came together to start a conversation with real Hamline community members titled “Intentionally Intersectional: A Conversation on How Multiple Identities Interact and Define Us.” 

The multicultural conversation is not often talked about. America is known to be a “melting pot” and yet, there are literal and metaphorical walls put up that divide people and isolate communities. 

Hamline’s Diversity Summit centered on this aspect of life. How can we tear down these walls and build each other up? How can the population acknowledge the way multiple identities exist and interact with each other?

Carlos Sneed, the multicultural alliance advisor, opened up the discussion on just that. 

“How do we open our eyes to our differences but enable each other to continue to thrive?” Sneed said. 

Cross-cultural communication is the answer. With different cultural contexts bringing new communication challenges to the workplace and classroom, adaption and acceptance is key. Even people who speak the same language can have cultural differences to consider in conversation.

A basic understanding of cultural diversity is the key to effective cross-cultural communication. We must all learn how to better communicate with individuals whose language and experience may not match our own.

This is not to say that everyone needs to know everything about everyone else or every other culture. But, learning the basics about culture and the language of communication is very important. This enables a better understanding of t individual perspectives, which leads to better communication in various settings. 

Likewise, a basic level  of understanding relating to appropriate greetings and physical contact is necessary., This can be a tricky area interculturally. Kissing a newly met peer is not considered a “normal” practice in the U.S., but in places like Paris and Spain, one peck on each cheek is an acceptable greeting. And the firm handshake that is widely accepted in the U.S. is not recognized in all other cultures. These are just some examples that the Hamline Diversity Summit engaged in.

Hamline is making strides to unite its faculty, students and community through acknowledging our differences. The overall takeaway was that it is a natural human instinct to fear the unknown, but that does not mean we cannot learn and accept. Humans have the disposition to villainize something that is hard to understand or out of the ordinary in their routine, but stepping into the  mindset that different does not equal bad allows for growth and change.