Personalizing Diversity 3

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Step 1: Know Self First


Diversity author Mary-Frances Winters says that the first step in any diversity program is to know yourself. Just as everything around us is in constant flux, so are we as individuals. We are interconnected to our environment and everyone in it.

But you may go through life oblivious to the subtle changes that happen on the way to becoming who you will be. Sometimes it takes a life-altering experience for you to sit up and take notice … for you to look inward for answers to the question: Who am I?

It is a question that can never really be answered because we are constantly in a state of becoming. Just when you think you know who you are, you are no longer that person.

Becoming intimate with yourself is not easy. Cutting to the core of your essence is a lifelong pursuit. Like eating, if you don’t do it, you will suffer from malnutrition. Many of us suffer from malnutrition of the soul because we neglect this part of our being. To know self, we must spend time attending to self. We spend time alone in deep contemplation. We must be honest about who we are and who we want to become. We must learn how we communicate, the power of our language and our nonverbal cues.

Our identity includes things we can’t change about ourselves like race, gender and age, which are called primary dimensions of diversity. Our identity also includes factors we can change like income, marital status and military experience. These are secondary dimensions of diversity. To discover more about your identity, the Diversity Training Group in Herndon, Va., recommends asking yourself these 13 questions:

  1. Where were you born?
  2. Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?
  3. Where are your parents from? Where are your grandparents and great grandparents from?
  4. What generation American are you? (Excludes Native Americans of course)
  5. How many siblings are in your family and are you the oldest, youngest, etc.?
  6. How did your birth order influence who you are today?
  7. As a child, which adult had a major influence in your life and why?
  8. What do you remember most about your favorite holidays and traditions as you were growing up?
  9. What unique qualities and characteristics do you possess that come from your unique upbringing?
  10. What was your most memorable encounter with someone from another culture/race?
  11. Describe a time you experienced prejudice or discrimination?
  12. List your hobbies and interests.
  13. Describe a risk or a surprise about you that no one can tell by looking at you.


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