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Cultural differences

Queens is the most diverse borough in all of New York City. Just the same, Queens College is filled with diversity, not just by ethnicity or race but by SES, education level and many other factors. These differences are wonderful and great to have on campus. However, the important question to ask here is, how can we enhance our teaching style as adjuncts by leveraging the campus culture and the individuals from all different walks of life?Diversity has been given a greater emphasis in the past couple of years, especially in higher education. I know personally I have to take an entire class devoted to diversity and understanding cultural differences in my own graduate school curriculum. I don’t expect every adjunct to take a class on it, and I do believe that Queens College has chosen faculty who are culturally aware and respectful, however I suspect that we do not use this to its full potential. Granted that it would be difficult to incorporate diversity in some classes like statistics, however it is not impossible.

In my statistics class we ran in class experiments where I divided the class into those who are in their first two years of college and those in their later years. I also once divided the class based on those who held jobs and those who did not. This, I felt, led to a more connected classroom. Individuals felt like they could connect to one another and are more prone to making new connections. Understanding and incorporating diversity is very important in the real world and it helps create a sense of cohesiveness in the classroom that may not be there without the inclusion of these different groups.

On the same issue of diversity it is important for us to be weary of religious holidays. This post was inspired by an email I receive every semester by my department making us aware of all the Jewish holidays. I think this is a great system as it helps our students and the faculty. The faculty can schedule exams on days where there are no anticipated conflicts due to religious services. This also makes life for the students easier, because they will not have to come in to make up an exam or possibly receive a lower score because of religious holidays. This schedule is relatively easy to abide by as the days for these events are determined before the semester begins. 

Having such diversity can be rewarding. Students at Queens College have different life experiences and can contribute a perspective that is not traditionally taken, it is understanding these perspectives that can help us create a more accepting environment for future generations.

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2 comments to Cultural differences

  • Ray E. Skrabut

    I, too, welcome the incredible diversity we have at QC. It helps to be able to speak several languages (as I do), as this helps put students at ease right from the start, especially those where English is not their first language. The cultural divide seems to shrink a bit when students know they can more easily get along with their instructor in their first language.

    I make use of a calendar app (iPhone, iPad) which allows Islamic, Jewish, and Christian holidays and holy days to be displayed along with one’s own entries. It is called CalenMob and an entry on one device syncs across all devices, and can be displayed alongside of the Outlook calendar on your PC/Mac at home. It’s very useful.

  • We are very fortunate to be teaching on the most culturally diverse college campus in the world!

    The cultural divide can be challenging at times however one of the courses I teach is the Aspects of Food, Culture and Economics of the World and what a great setting to be teaching it at! 🙂
    I tap into the many cultures of my students and they are very eager and proud to share and teach the class about their cultures. The students in the class learn first hand about the cultures from around the world by first generation students. This is very engaging for the class and the students that are presenting build pride and a sense of celebrating their culture, it’s a win win!