29 August, 2022

How we can celebrate our differences at Northbridge

How we can celebrate our differences at Northbridge-How we can celebrate our differences at Northbridge-285822159_5121960494555589_9064560110727198718_n
How we can celebrate our differences at Northbridge

By Adrian Pasos

Many people wave their flags of diversity without digging deepPeople, including at Northbridge International School Cambodia, will not admit to thinking Everyone is different butshould not be different enough to bother me.” Onthe other extreme – those who think “I am different, so I cannot accept others who can’t accept me.” There are no winners here. A lot of that has to change and we know it’s not that simple! It is not natural for usto celebrate our differences, so it will requireresponsibility. How?

Beyond our comfort zones

To truly embrace our differences, we have to challenge ourselves in doing the uncomfortable. We have evidence of this in our school – every time a student chooses to sit next to a new student. That can be uncomfortable! In a world that pushes us to focus on “me,” that is inconvenient. So, if you did that today, that’s a reason to celebrate. It can also be as annoying as working on a group assignment with someone whose ideas are different from yours. You can’t always team up with your friends in a class project! So, if you managed that, that is another reason to celebrate!

 

Our hands and feet

Celebrating differences is about taking action, not about superficially parading our feelings or beliefs. It is about reaching out, extending, helping, or just showing up. When we think about how we are just as strange, as different, and as imperfect in so many ways, it is much easier to externalize our empathy and recalibrate our inclusion meter as we begin to partner with or chat with those whose perspectives do not match ours, those who criticize our ideas and perhaps even those with whom we have little in common.

 

Shift in mindset

Inclusion is being growth-minded. The IB defines it as an “ongoing” process. We may not ever reach inclusive utopia, but we are forcefully moving forward, constantly reconfiguring our practice and policy. Inclusion prevails when every child is given the opportunity to succeed in his own backyard. When we stop thinking of ways to make diversity work, then we have signed up for a world where humans lose their individuality, and that is a scary place. As parents and educators in our current reality, we can raise human beings who are tolerant and compassionate.

 

Culture change

Our school is a smaller version of the world outside, so this is where we start. If we begin including others more frequently, it is no longer just one act of kindness – it becomes a way of life. If we can influence others to do the same, then it becomes a culture of inclusion. With every individual making it intentional to invite a variety of people into their circle of influence, celebrating differences can impact our community at a much rapid pace.

 

Inclusion is a huge commitment, but if we think that differences are an advantage rather than a letdown, the job gets easier for all of us. Our "ambitious minds and caring hearts” tell us that we should give it a shot. One act of inclusion at a time calls for celebration!