Our Strength and Purpose Reside in Our Diversity
Cultural diversity is the cornerstone of our strength as a community. It is through cross-cultural experiences that our lives are enriched, our perspectives are shaped, and our actions have purpose. Fostering diversity is not a path to achieving homogeneity. Rather, it is the path to strengthen the social construct of the undeniable value afforded to us by diversity. Growing up in Italy, I was not exposed to rich levels of diversity as the cultural homogeneity was driven by religion, socio-economic order and ethnic similarity. In my early twenties, I was fortunate to be presented with the opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture by following a career path that took me to the United States, namely the melting pot of Southern California. As an executive, a business owner, an educator, and an elected official, I had the opportunity and privilege of working in highly diverse environments. Diversity manifests itself as a complex synergistic model that provides the opportunity to access human capital at the highest level of consciousness, and while the concept of diversity is often challenged by prejudices and stereotypes, cross-cultural leadership and the ability to relate to others in their wholesomeness, is crucial in order to avoid the pitfall of classifying diversity attributes as right or wrong. Not only such attitude leads to oversimplification, it also negates the variant of what cultures consider as effective in function of what I define as the Pillars of Diversity. My endless curiosity and interest in other people’s backgrounds along with my desire to assist them in their professional and personal development, translated into the ability to conduct business internationally, develop long-lasting cross-cultural and cross-identity relationships, and ultimately provided me with the skills to serve my Coachella Valley community as a volunteer and then as an elected official. I do proudly serve a diverse community.
As I entered teaching in Higher Education in the fall of 1997, the layered cross-cultural experiences became a guiding compass in ensuring that the diverse student body I was entrusted to mentor would experience a classroom environment where their culture, gender, sexual orientation, philosophical orientation and even generational diversity, were valued and integrated in the learning process, resulting in empowering these individuals as they were preparing to enter a career path, or in the case of many, a new career path.
Diversity is essential in building and fostering a learning community where functional collaboration and sharing of knowledge thrive on empowerment, the foundations on which decisions are made can substantially mitigate the uncertainties in global environments. It brings a higher level of “networking” within organizations and communities as the empowerment concept emphasizes the decentralization of power. The fundamentals are quite linear. Empowerment through cultural diversity is fundamental for communities as it augments their decision-making skills and consequentially makes their skills set transferable both laterally and vertically. Furthermore, those skills learned in a richly diverse environment, become more appealing, hence more transferable in personal and professional affairs. “To rid yourself of old patterns, focus all your energy not on struggling with the old, but on building the new” – Socrates