Strategies for Building Unity in Diversity
Submitted by David J. Rosen on August 21, 2016 - 7:50am
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At a time when some politicians are exploiting diversity to exacerbate fears about people who differ in color, first language, or ethnic origin, it is refreshing to remember -- and discuss -- ways to build unity in our programs and communities, strategies for bringing together community newcomers and long-time community members to strengthen the community.
One of these strategies can be team sports. Although it is rare for adult basic skills programs to be able to afford physical education or sports programs, it would be great to hear about examples of these. Although it isn't an example from adult education, here's an inspiring Boston Globe article about Lewiston Maine's high school soccer team and how African immigrants have helped to build community unity.
Another example from Maine is a regular, free, Saturday Milbridge Public Library Tabletop Games Day where adult basic skills teacher and games enthusiast, Ed Latham, offers to community members the opportunity to learn and play board games together. Ed works with the public library to bring together adults and children (8 and older) from many cultures and ethnicities to play board games, learn strategic thinking, and have fun. The library supports this program to bring together long-time and immigrant members of the community to get to know each other, appreciate their similarities and differences, and learn about their cultures and languages. Participants can also learn about other services the library can offer them. Perhaps Ed could join in to describe this further.
Are you aware of adult basic skills programs in the U.S. that offer adult learners physical education, sports, athletics or tabletop games? If so, what are the benefits of these programs? Do they build community unity? Do they help adult students get or stay healthy? Do they have other purposes or benefits?
What other strategies and activities can you suggest for adult basic skills programs to recognize and appreciate cultural diversity among students and to build unity in the adult learning program or in the communities in which students live? Perhaps you know of activities organized around food and nutrition, child-rearing, job clubs, or other areas of student interest. If so, please tell us about them.
David J. Rosen