[GEN 19.20] Living Diversity
Living diversity begins with being self-aware and easy-going with yourself, embracing yourself as who you truly are.—— Scott, MC VP iGT&PD 19.20, Australia
This is my signature, the one that you could find copy-and-pasted in some of our contracts in AIESEC Australia google drives. Most people call me Scott, but this signature spells out my actual name — Linhan Ye, a Chinese sounding name and my actual passport name. I migrated from China to Australia when I was 10, entering a country that was full of immigrants from all sorts of backgrounds. AIESEC in Australia itself is one such reflection of the racial, cultural, socio-economic diversity that our country has birthed.
Hence, despite the fact that I was never an international MC, my AIESEC experience, as a most recent chapter of my 22 years of life, has taught me more than anything else about how important living diversity was to me. I will tell my story through the lessons I had learned and lived.
Living diversity begins with being self-aware and easy-going with yourself, embracing yourself as who you truly are. For those that are overly critical and unaccepting of parts of themselves, your ability to appreciate others for their imperfections is hindered. If you are never satisfied with yourself, how can you ever be content with the imperfect existence of others? I’m someone that used to, and still do to an extent, always pick out imperfections in myself and others. This meant I could never bring myself to truly accept myself and others for who we all were. Because of this, I lost many chances to make the life-long connections that I missed due to my inner perfectionistic views.
Don’t judge too quickly. Don’t judge a book by its cover. This rarely needs elaboration but please think about this — a lot of us often realises new things about ourselves and we’ve known ourselves for 20 odd years. If we cannot even understand ourselves fully how can one ever be so arrogant to think they can see through someone else? No one is ever so simple that you should ignorantly label them. This is a mistake I made a lot throughout my MC term and life journey. I really cannot find a specific case for this since I did this so often that hindered my ability to understand different cultures and perspectives. After making my fair sure of assumptions that led to failures, it was again too late.
Diversity is easy to understand, but it takes time to live. Everyone understands that there are differences between different cultures. That’s just common sense. But living diversity is something that takes time to develop because it needs practice. Patience and humbleness are keys on a path to really learn how to collaborate with a diverse team of people. For the longest time, I had always told myself that I knew how to live diversity, but it’s a lot more than just being open-minded. Throughout my many attempts at making teams work or working in a team, I realised that an open-mind is a tool to be used only at certain times. Learning when to “close” your mind is something hard to grasp. I mean, if you are always open-minded how are you ever going to decide on something?
At the end of the day, living diversity for me is just being able to readily switch from perspective to perspective with ease. If you can only see things one way then you are kind of screwed for life.
If you only know how to use a hammer, everything will look like a nail.