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Admiring Our Differences

     Back in 2007 I found myself surrounded by dirt roads, clay housing, and a huge crowd of children of all ages. The people there spoke their native Spanish language, having a general understanding of original street slang, specific name pronunciation, and inside jokes that no outsider would pick up so easily. This was my first time to ever leave the country from my hometown, Philadelphia. I embarked on a missionary trip into Honduras where we traveled to both poverty-ridden and beautiful areas. Now, growing up I have always been accustomed to embracing diversity, for it was all around me. If you moved an inch into another region of Philly, it was expected that you’d meet a completely different ethnicity and culture. It is best to never assume the unknown, that quickly becomes unsteady ground. Dare to uncover mysteries and reach beyond your comfort zone.

      Have you ever felt like an outsider? Do you remember what things may have caused you to feel that way? Probably you were welcome into a group but could not relate, or have a sense of uneasiness worrying about the expectation of others. Regardless of the case we ought to be courageous, never cease to wonder and create new adventures in what we barely understand. I believe that to be an outsider is an honorary position. Simultaneously you are a teacher while continually learning as a student. The values you uphold and cherish brings flavor into the mix of distinct ingredients, that ultimately work together for something good.

      Let me tell you about a little something known as cultural sensitivity. This may be the first time you have ever came across this term, and honestly the meaning of it lays within the words. Cultural sensitivity is being aware that cultural differences and similarities between people exist without assigning them a value – positive or negative, better or worse, right or wrong. Its acknowledgement of things between one another, and simply to understand its importance. Being sensitive is at times a last option for many people. We tend to have pride in knowing or at least a “fake it til you make it” type of attitude with challenges, because everyone would rather impress than be direct. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you adventure out into new territory:

1) Do not attempt to be a “savior” of the people; approach them humbly

2) Be cautious of beforehand (negative) presets of where you are going

3) Act as a child; excited and free

4) Embrace every single moment, ever-learning, and build community

      Being a respecter of persons, backgrounds, or beliefs is not an overnight process, but requires some training or discipline of our own body. Sensitivity develops after we have declared ourselves lesser to a matter. I believe this is where the practice of humbleness takes effect, allowing us to be open-minded and create a hunger to explore beyond what we are familiar with. Jesus constantly proclaimed the kingdom of God to be opposite/backwards to what we have already conformed to. The Apostle Paul writes, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Let not society determine our way of treating people who are different than us, but we ourselves choose to be gentle, loving, and honorable with one another, remembering we are all a breed of the Trinity.

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