We enjoy talking about sports and politics. He and his wife both volunteered with the Red Cross to help out Hurricane Katrina victims in Louisiana. He was willing to take a few days off work at his own expense if the Red Cross called him. As it turned out, the Red Cross didn't call either Rich or his wife, but I like it about Rich that he was willing to volunteer. If Rich has any prejudices against anyone (which I doubt) he definitely does not display them.
Sandy and Rich are both important to me (although not as important as either Erik or my girlfriend, Jennie) because we all put in so many hours around one another at work, and because we work together as a team for our company. I would probably be friends with Rich outside of work, although probably not with Sandy, now that I know her better. But they are still my "teammates," and we all try to help each other succeed and do our jobs as well as possible.
My girlfriend Jennie (her self-adopted "American" name; her real name is Jun-Yeon) is from Korea. Many Americans do not like Asians, and I see this in some peoples' casual interactions with her (and with us as a couple) from time to time. People also often also automatically expect her to be a math and science whiz and/or a computer geek. Actually, she is more interested in subjects like anthropology and literature, which surprises even her professors. Jennie is important to me because she is my soul mate, and my strongest source of encouragement and support. I feel (and hope) that I also fill those roles for her. Jennie also helps me to see the world through the eyes of someone with a much different background than mine.
III. Based on your learning from parts I and II, answer the following:
A. What are the benefits of your cultural programming (past and present) in enhancing your diversity learning?
The benefits of my early cultural programming, from my family and from team sports, to enhancing my diversity learning, were: (1) that I was raised, and had experiences in sports, that taught me to be non-prejudiced, and (2) that those two sets of experiences reinforced one another, in terms of my early formation of ideas about equality, open-mindedness, and valuing diversity. Therefore, I now come to diversity learning with an open mind; with positive past experiences of interacting with diverse individuals; and with a strong feeling that diversity sensitivity really does (when and if enough people practice it) make the world a better place for everyone.
My present cultural programming and interactions with others are, in and of themselves, more diverse than my earlier ones. My closest friends have attitudes like mine about diversity (or are, like Jennie, or to a smaller extent Erik, even examples of it themselves). My work friend Rich also reinforces my attitudes about diversity, at least as far as I know. But my other work friend, Sandy, provides a "reality check" that not all people favor or support diversity. Instead, some, like Sandy, obviously feel that their or their family's "ox is being gored" by it. But even my contact with Sandy and her narrow minded ideas essentially aids my own diversity learning, since it reminds me that universal acceptance and encouragement of diversity is still very much an uphill struggle.
B. What are the limitations of your cultural programming (past and present) in enhancing your diversity learning? What strategies can you use in the future to counter those limitations?
The main limitation of my past cultural programming is that it left me with no narrow-minded attitudes or prejudices of my own to overcome, and thus be better able, now, to perhaps empathize with those trying as adults to embrace diversity when their early cultural programming taught them the opposite. Similarly, the two main limitations of my present cultural programming, I believe are that (1) it basically supports my earlier cultural programming, including all the limitations of that; and (2) the one person I now know, and with whom I could conceivably exchange opposing ideas about diversity (Sandy) is also someone with whom I would feel uncomfortable having such conversations. The reason for that is that they might interfere with the current smoothness of our work relationship.
In the future, strategies I can use to counter those limitations would be (1) make more efforts to reach outside my immediate, comfortable, yet very small social group, to others from all walks of life less likely than my social circle to share my attitudes and viewpoints. Another is to keep reading widely about diversity issues. A third is to seek out many, varying, multicultural experiences, e.g., films; discussion groups; clubs; restaurants; travel; books, etc. In order to broaden my own horizons, and thus hopefully come to better understand feelings, experiences, and viewpoints of others who may not share my view of diversity. Fourth, I could talk more with Jennie about her experiences in this country, positive, negative, and neutral, and become more neutrally observant, if possible, about other peoples' positive or negative attitudes about and interactions with her, and with us as a couple.
Child Development Institute. "Stages of Social-Emotional Development in Children and Teenagers." Child Development Institute. Retrieved October 15, 2005, from:
Habke, Audrey, and Ron Sept. "Distinguishing Group and Cultural Influences in Inter-Ethnic Conflict: A Diagnostic Model." Canadian Journal of Communication (CJC). Vol. 18, No. 4 (1993). Retrieved October 15, 2005,