Many of you live what would be considered multicultural or intercultural lives as people who love to travel the world; eating foods of all types; soaking in the wonders of cultural institutions providing bridges to other worlds, often within our own neighborhoods; and of course, having relationships with many people from many cultures. So, your responses to my invitation to “Do One Thing” in celebration of World Day for Cultural Diversity and Dialogue Development, which is today, May 21st have been very interesting.
A few of you thanked me for the reminder to be mindful and intentional in your quest to do one thing for diversity and inclusion today; a few of you committed to doing one thing today or this week and letting me know what that thing is after it is done; and a few of you shared recent experiences:
“I have been meaning to pick up Chaim Potok’s The Chosen forever, and started last night.”
“I have a letter that I will scan to you when I get a chance. Our Muslim neighbor sent it to their neighbors, very well written, explaining who they are (in detail), about their religion and their attitude about the Boston bombings, etc., and their concern about what our attitude might be. I haven’t responded yet, but intend to do so.”
” … a Chinese artist visiting and we struck up a conversation. His English was far better than my Mandarin. We talked about a Chinese artist I had seen in Washington, D.C. at a Hershorn exhibit, about a Korean artist I had seen in Seattle, about the differences between how English and Chinese poetry is conceptualized, about the proper way to prepare a Chicago hot dog. I was reading a book on the history of Chicago and he compared it with the history of Shanghai. A large unknowable world became smaller and grew handles. The skin around my uniqueness began to breathe.”
I am always thinking about how our cultures rub off on each other, how we cannot undo the impact that others have on us, how indelibly we are marked by the sound of unfamiliar music, the taste of unusual cuisine, the colors of unexplored terrains, the scent of new places, the challenge of speaking a foreign language, the feeling of exotic fabric on our skin. That is what makes this day so wonderful! This invitation to do something that for me, at least, is so much fun. I must admit, it is a challenge to do one thing today as I usually do multiple things for diversity and inclusion. So, I thought, ‘how can I convey my message of being multicultural to you?’
I have decided to share one of my favorite poems. This poem is one that I have shared with some of you before as it is an excellent expression of what many people like me experience being members of multiple cultures. Please let me know what you think and what you have done on this special day!
Cemi del Mar
Indigenous Puerto Rican People
Deity of the Sea
Aurora Levins Morales
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