Culture ShockBy Tara Grieco | February 6th, 2014 | Category: Lead Story, News | No Comments »
GSC is in the middle of celebrating Diversity Week and many may be wondering what that means. Diversity is simply a concept that includes ideas of class, culture, ethnicity, race, religion, or almost any characteristic that varies among people and societal groups. GSC is committed to embracing fully all forms of diversity and educating our student body in a way that allows open discourse and exploration.
This week Onick Lewis and Ashley Hopkins from Student Support Services brought that attitude with them to the Mollohan Campus Community Center. SSS is a program designed to help students succeed in college. They provide academic assistance and cultural activities to a variety of students new to the college experience. Each of these staff members is a bit of a cultural conundrum themselves. Onick was born in Jamaica, spent many years in D.C., and now is a part of the Glenville community. Ashley grew up on a farm in a very rural area, moved to the big city to attend Ohio University, and has returned to small town life in Glenville.
This particular event focused on culture, one’s beliefs and norms or as Onick says, “what makes you, you” and what happens when one is faced with a drastically different set of behaviors and attitudes.
Approximately 15 students were in attendance and energy was high despite the dreaded afternoon slump. The level of participation and sharing by the students was impressive. A wide range of students including, former military, students from other states, students who had traveled extensively, and one student who grew up in Calhoun County opened up about their experiences and opinions.
The conversation went well below the surface level. The environment created by Onick and Ashley allowed a frank discussion of the fear, trepidation, general discomfort, and missteps that occur when encountering another culture for the first time. One story shared was about taking a new black friend home to county that is, for all practical purposes, completely Caucasian. These educators are serious. On the lighter side, Ashley shared about the time that she accidentally asked a friend to marry her as the result of a language barrier.
The overall message of the day was to remember to step outside of your comfort zone by asking and answering questions about different cultures.
“It is when we allow ourselves to be in an uncomfortable space that we learn the most,” says Hopkins, “diversity allows us to grow and gain the life skills needed to thrive after college.”
The official motto of Jamaica is, “Out of Many, One People.” Onick translate that as, “We are all the same and can learn from one another and we all have something to bring to the table.”
If you haven’t already please take a moment to explore some of the activities offered this week to celebrate diversity. They have much more to offer than a few laughs and snacks.