Embracing & Celebrating Diversity Day

By Sarah Miller-Locke Class of 2015 design team member

September 9, 2015

Heading to the South Side

Thank you the South Side Innovation Center (SSIC) for hosting our day. Two of the main goals of the SSIC are to encourage and support potential entrepreneurs and to increase the vitality of one of the poorest zip codes (in the United States) as well as area economy. Thank you for all the work that you do!!

Getting Deep

Part of the reason Diversity Day is later on in our time together is that we have built trust with one another as classmates. We have laid the framework to go past the surface and ask our peers to explore and share their own stories. Pam and Robin are so crafty! Design team members took the time to share their own very personal stories. All of us so different – but sharing similarities as well. From growing up in poverty to having bi-racial families, experiencing blatant racism to being different shapes and sizes, or admitting how lucky we were in life to not experience those things but acknowledging how much we have grown from being around people who are different from us. What is your story? Take the time, write it down – what makes you who you are today?

The Difference that Make Each of us Unique

We moved on to exploring what diversity really meant with Dr. James Duah-Agyeman (a.k.a. Dr. D.), Director of Multicultural Affairs at Syracuse University. Dr. D. took us on a journey to move past black and white and help us recognize that diversity is all around us, even if we appear to the be same. In fact, diversity is not always noticeable and is often quite invisible! In the workplace we learned that putting all the smart people on the same team will not yield the best results because they think the same. That Collective Accuracy = Average Accuracy + Diversity! Individual differences may include personality, learning styles and life experiences while group and social differences may include race, ethnicity, gender, country of origin, sexual orientation and so much more! We also explored the tolerance scale with regard to the workplace. Do you appreciate your co-workers and see their differences as positives or accept them and focus more on the ways you are the same? Perhaps there are some people at work or in life that you tolerate and you don’t feel completely comfortable around? Thank you Dr. D.!

Exploring our New Americans and My Lucky Tummy

We rounded out the morning by learning more about the New Americans who are coming to and adding to the diverse richness of our city. Beth Broadway, Executive Director for InterFaith Works and LGS graduate of 2004 provide us with the who, what, where, why and how of the 1,000 refugees that will be resettled right here in Syracuse this year. Without great partnerships and collaborations with other non-profits, employers, variety of religious leaders from all faiths, landlords, and community volunteers this true public-private partnership would not be as successful as it is. Thank you InterFaith Works for giving new hope and new life to our new neighbors. Following Beth’s presentation we celebrated the abundance of diverse cultures here in our city with lunch prepared by My Lucky Tummy. Check them out at http://www.myluckytummy.com/about.html#.VfRDVJp0zIU – the name speaks for itself.

 

Did you bring your Socks to the Crosswalk?

The ‘LGS fieldtrip class’ of 2015 then hit the road to visit a Mosque. Thank you to Yusuf Abdul-Qadir, Board Secretary of the Islamic Society of Central New York for hosting us. Yusuf provided his prospective and interpretation of Islam and answered all of our questions. He didn’t shy away from any question ranging from the role of woman in the faith to ISIS. Yusuf also gave us an Islam 101 lesson and we all walked away learning something new and great about the Islam faith! Wrapping up our day we heard some powerful stories of courage and determination from three individuals coming from unique crosswalks of life. Thank you to Greg Callen, Founder of Move Along Inc., Shawn Cheshire, US Army Veteran and Emad Rahim, Director/Associate Professor of Bellevue University and LGS graduate of 2010. You reminded us all that sometimes life gives us challenging situations to face – but it’s how we move forward that redefines our single story.

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