The poster child for diversity is South Africa, a country with eleven official languages and a mixture of skin tones, religions, beliefs, and ethnicities. South Africa has advanced from periods of hardship, adversity, and misfortune to become the Rainbow Nation it is known as today. South Africa is a country that embraces diversity, breaking boundaries that have separated people through the generations. I am a product of South Africa; I am a Rainbow Nation child.
Growing up in a multi-cultural nation, I occasionally experienced opposition from my own peers. One of my most profound moments occurred in my first year of school. There were very few people of color, but all I wanted was to be accepted by my classmates. As the only Indian mixed student in my grade, I was a conspicuous outcast. The way my parents acted deepened my burden with their unconventional mannerisms, further embarrassing me. Every morning, my parents would pack me samosas, curry, and other various Indian treats. The first time I sat down in class and opened my lunch box, one of my schoolmates exclaimed, “Yuck! What’s that?” Her facial expression made me feel so humiliated. Every day thereafter, I begged my mom to make me normal food. I did everything in my power to conceal my true self until I met my friend, Imelda.
Imelda had just moved to South Africa from the Philippines. Everyone was fascinated with her. She always brought traditional Philippine food and shared it with the class. Although a few students conveyed a negative attitude towards her food, she continued to proudly promote her culture and customs. Never once did she ebb away from who she truly was. We were both racially unique, yet everyone acknowledged her for who she was. I su...
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... our relationship in the classroom and bridged a significant culture gap between us. We both gained invaluable experience by learning how to live and work in a diverse world.
Growing up in South Africa and traveling the world, diversity is no longer a stranger to me. I learned to grasp that individuals are one-of-a-kind in their own ways and I have advanced beyond confines of mere tolerance. As a social worker it is essential to regard others in a caring and considerate fashion. The late Tata Madiba, or Nelson Mandela, once said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Learning to accept and respect differences will help us achieve this aspiration.
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