Delia Saenz, a professor in ASU’s department of psychology, explains that before a person can recognize and accept diversity, one must first understand one’s self. By then recognizing characteristics of one’s self, a person can see the different similarities they have with people from various different groups. There are many ways to “categorize individuals. Some classifications can be “race/ethnicity, age, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, ableness, class, etc” (Saenz).
Classifying people into different groups can be very helpful in trying to understand their lifestyle, values, beliefs, traditions, etc. However, this can also lead to stereotyping. Stereotyping is very dangerous in that it places barriers on one’s understanding of individuals different from themselves. By meeting someone and already have a predetermined idea of who they are, based on the aforementioned classifications, a person’s understanding of the individual becomes greatly skewed. Putting aside stereotypes can often be a difficult task. What a person is taught in their early years of life, greatly affects their understanding for the rest of their lives. It is important for parents and teachers to teach acceptance of diversity starting already at a young age. Diversity is already more widely accepted, in the United States, than it was even 20 years ago.
ASU offers many different opportunities for students to understand other groups of people. There are over 3000 international students at ASU and many organizations exist which allow for these people, and anyone else, to connect and meet others with similar, or diverse, interests. It is important to get involved in the global community and not limit one’s self with stereotypes and classifications.