I often hear stories of immigrants in different countries in this globalized world. How they travel there, how they find a place to live, how they adjust, and how they get friends or not. How they manage to learn the language or not, and how they feel at home or not.
At the same time, in the past two–three years, I have seen a whole discussion in some social media and professional networking sites about diversity, integration, and inclusion.
What do they mean, all these big words? We use them, yet I rarely hear definitions. Therefore, I’ve asked the dictionaries:
– the state of being diverse; variety.
– the practice or quality of including or involving people from various social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, ages, color, etc.
It comes from the Latin “divertere” which means “to turn” or “aside”. This Latin meaning has a point because we will always have mainstream in everything we do and everywhere we are, and we will have exceptions and details which we will put aside, turn away, or give back because they do not fit into our worlds. Yet they exist, and they make our surroundings more interesting. They fulfill our human need for diversity – so we can avoid boredom and show us what we think we want or don’t want just because they exist. “Divertere” takes my thoughts to “tailoring,” which creates something in a particular shape.
In the context of people means “the process of intermixing of people who were previously segregated. Again, it comes from Latin “integratus,” which means to bring together the parts of a whole.
In the context of immigration, immigrants live within the borders of a country that already has a population from before. Therefore, integration would mean mixing the immigrants with the locals to make the mass population “whole”.
– the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.
– the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or intellectual disabilities and members of other minority groups.
From Latin includere “to shut in, enclose, imprison, insert”. Very interesting, I did not expect this meaning. Because who would like to be “imprisoned”?
As immigrants, no matter the reason we choose to settle in one country, we also select the eventuality that the adjustment may not be as we would like it to be. First, we need to know what we need. Yes, we need belonging. However, that need for belonging can only be satisfied by the locals? Or can it be met by other groups of foreigners or people with the same interests? Yet to find those groups, we need to know what we need and what our interests are.
On the other hand, if the locals are friendly, they do it in their way: some may volunteer for organizations where there are foreigners. Some may talk to the foreigners they have at work during their lunch breaks. Or they help with training. Others help with language, drive children to places, or be friendly and polite.
Yet, the question remains: How would foreigners like to be included? First, it may be that they are, yet they don’t know if they don’t see the word’s meaning. Because perhaps they have other needs they would like to be met and not the ones the locals can and are willing to meet in their understanding of inclusion. Because humans are different and because humans need different things that one person or one group of people cannot necessarily help with.
Therefore, my question for you today is as follows:
– If you are a local: how do you include the new people in your circle? Do you feel the need to include anyone new in your already-established life?
– If you are a newcomer (foreigner or not), what do you need to feel included in the new environment you decided to live in?