Difference between revisions of "The Diversity Awareness Class"

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Revision as of 15:38, 15 November 2019

Author: Theolyn Maryash

A spotlight on the Diversity Awareness Class, taught by Nethanel al'Tere, that happened last year in the Classroom.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” - Ghandi''

Visiting TarValon.Net for the first time left me with a fuzzy feeling of coming home. The fact that the people who gave me warm welcomes were from all corners of the world didn’t mean too much to me, unless the occasional reactions like “She’s from Norway! Nice.” count. Not until later have I realized the importance of being aware of all the diversity of this site’s members. And that’s what Nethanel al’Tere’s “Diversity Awareness Class” was all about last November.

“TarValon.net is an incredibly diverse community both geographically and culturally. We have members from all walks of life, who have varying beliefs and cultures. While I'm relatively new to the community, in comparison to a lot of the members, this was something I saw immediately upon becoming a citizen”, said Nethanel. However, his goal was to point out that we have to be careful with each other not only on the site, but also in our lives off the internet. Isn’t it so easy to judge someone without thinking, or to stubbornly defend our opinion, without even considering the different ones? Surely all of us have had some of those moments...

The class was divided into four parts. First part was meant for people to introduce their opinion of the meaning of diversity awareness, and also to give their examples of stereotyping or being stereotyped. Part two was dealing more closely with some general stereotypes that we hear every day – about blonds, Wiccans, different countries… Part three brought us the explanations of the terms like Cultural Relativity, Moral Relativity and Ethnocentrism – trying to walk not a mile, but just a bit in someone else’s shoes wasn’t easy, but it turned out to be quite interesting. But it’s the last part that I find the most interesting – it was a revision of the class, and it had no specific assignments; the only task was to think hard about what we have learned, and to decide how we are going to act further in life. It could have easily been the most difficult thing to do, but previous assignments were also pretty demanding. “The assignments were meant to be a challenge and get everyone to look at how they view themselves, how they view others, how others view them, and try to think about how others view themselves”, Nethanel pointed out.

They were definitely taken as challenges, as some of the participants said. “When I was answering the questions Nethanel posed to us, I guess I felt pretty uncomfortable. Even though I try really hard to be as accepting and kind as I can to others, I was surprised and a little ashamed of myself at some of the things I think”, said Bryher al’Venna, and these were Marivea al’Corriyi thoughts: “His questions were very thought provoking. A lot of the things he asked stirred upset feelings in me I didn't know I had towards some things! It was a little uncomfortable and made me face myself. I had always thought I was a completely accepting person before, but his class made me see that I have been secretly intolerant of things I don't approve of.”

Participants’ task was to face themselves, but the others as well. When things got a bit heated up – which was expected - Nethanel managed to calm everyone down, making a point of that at the same time. “I believe that being proactive is the best way to try to handle these things. In the end everyone behaved like adults through the course of the conversation, as this is really what the class was about.”

Citizens were also given the opportunity to participate, thanks to our lovely Mayor Feon Ceseth. Even though they didn’t participate directly, there were still several messages saying that it was a great class to follow.

I believe that I speak for all who’ve participated, even just by following the class, when I say – thank you, Nethanel, for putting together such a wonderful class!