NOTE: This guest post was written by Ajiya Doka, who blogged at the Social Good Summit. Ajiya Doka is a sophomore Diplomacy and International Relations Major. Her areas of interest include post conflict resolution and nation building specifically political stability. Her regions of interest include Sub Saharan Africa and Latin America. Ajiya enjoys telling a great story and hopes to travel the world to see, share, and understand the over 7 billion people that live on this earth. Besides writing for the Diplomatic Envoy, Ajiya enjoys Starbucks Coffee and the hustle and bustle of city life. As a Washington D.C. native, she enjoys political discourse, and eating and drinking for free on other people’s dollar.
You make me feel jubilant, for there is something that you give me that the familiar cannot. Exotic, exuberant, and wild, you give me the change that keeps things interesting. It is changing perspective and the thrill of something new that gives difference its unique richness. You give me the compassion to be open to new ideas, the appreciation of heritage, and the value of culture. It humbles me to know that the world is bigger than myself and you make me want to see the world and leave it better than when I found it.
You give me friends and neighbors, teachers, and even strangers. They all have their own story on what makes them who they are. History so vast and memories so deep, it is tradition that holds the glue of their existence. From religious practices to food preferences, these all form a sense of identity. With this identity, there is a search for others who understand us and share our same passions and strife. From these groupings based on identity we come to know things such as stereotyping and ethnocentrism. The petty things like all African Americans eat watermelon and listen to rap are comical at best. However, there are feelings that may not always be politically correct or vocalized, but they are felt. All Muslims are terrorists, and Mexicans are rapists. It is this rhetoric that changes fear to hatred. Protect your own at all cost or fear the worst, to be marginalized or exploited, and at extremes killed.
How do we curb this fear? This fear which affects current political issues such as migration. The twenty first century is the most globalized era, yet the lines that divide us seem to grow thicker. If we are inevitably multiethnic and diverse, how do we stop ourselves from self-segregation and reach a place of wanting cross-cultural interaction instead of seeing it as escapable. I think Rabbi Gerald Serotta explained it best when describing why his group Clergy Beyond Borders was named beyond borders instead of without borders. There are differences, and our differences are what makes us unique, but the ability to move beyond them and work on commonalities is what was most important.
In the words of Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “There is a way to have a harmonious society based on diversity.” It is the variety of skills, ideas, and stories aimed towards one goal, a better world, that will move us forward. Diversity, I see you everywhere I am and that makes you part of who I am. I thank you for the great stories, prospects for a wonderful career in international relations, and some really great food. I thank you for my world in which I can be myself, yet still relate to others. You will never be that far away.
Ajiya M Doka