Strength lies in differences, not in similarities. Stephen R. Covey
Some episodes ago, I unpacked third culture individuals and some of my story relating to the topic. In this episode, we look at cultural diversity, what it means and how we can celebrate each other’s differences. Who makes up your community? I came to learn that Greater Western Sydney has one of the most diverse cultural communities in the world.
The things that we do and the practices we were taught influence who we become. While culture is a broad term, it involves values, beliefs, behaviours, norms, and overall our way of being. According to harmony.gov.au, cultural diversity and awareness are “about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone”. It’s about respecting each other’s differences and valuing what different cultures can bring to the table.
Some facts about cultural diversity in Australia.
Australia is a multicultural country, home to the world’s oldest continuous cultures, as well as Australians who identify with more than 270 ancestries. Since 1945, almost seven million people have migrated to Australia (Australian Human Rights Commission, n.d). One in four of Australia’s 22 million people were born overseas; 46 per cent have at least one parent who was born overseas; and nearly 20 per cent of Australians speak a language other than English at home (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013). There are approximately 7,139 languages that are spoken today (Ethnologue, n.d).
So how do we become culturally aware and sensitive? There are several ways, and here are some of them:
• Interact with people who are outside of our culture
• If unsure about a person’s culture, seek out understanding
• Learn a new language, even if it is just the basics
• Exposure to the arts from around the world
• Have multicultural days in the community where foods and stories are shared
• Don’t assume certain cultural groups are one and the same, even if they might seem similar
• Ask questions to get a better understanding
• Be mindful that some cultures may have opposing views. Cultural awareness respects the differences and doesn’t force different beliefs onto each other
• Take part in different communities and understand them from their source
Diversity goes beyond culture, and we see it in nature and the world around us. In our differences, we can find beauty and appreciation if we are open to it. Cultural diversity can benefit everyone as it expands our way of being in the world by exposing us to different perspectives, resources, food, art, music and I could go on.
Thank you for joining; wishing you a good rest of the day as you think of your own cultural awareness journey. In the meantime, take care. C