Multiculturalism: United in Diversity. A Romanian Perspective
In today’s world, exposure to other cultures has become a symbol of increasing globalization processes. Many people leave their home area to go on a voyage of discovery and learning about other cultures that affects their original cultural identity. The needs of the 21st century demand citizens that are culturally sensitive and internationally focused, with an orientation toward the future rather than the past. Cultural Diversity is in it. The concept of multiculturalism offers a new orientation toward the future. “Multiculturalism is a system of beliefs and behaviors that recognizes and respects the presence of all diverse groups in an organization or society, acknowledges and values their socio-cultural differences, and encourages and enables their continued contribution within an inclusive cultural context which empowers all within the organization or society” (Caleb Rosado, 1997). The essence of multiculturalism is the ability to celebrate with the Other in a manner that removes all barriers and brings unity in diversity. Multiculturalism pushes us to look upon the Other not as a potential enemy but as a profitable partner. Managing diversity is an ongoing process that unleashes the various talents and capabilities which a diverse population brings to an organization, community or society, so as to create a wholesome, inclusive environment, that is safe for differences, enables people to reject rejection, celebrates diversity, and maximizes the full potential of all, in a cultural context where everyone benefits. Multiculturalism, as the art of managing diversity, is an inclusive process where no one is left out. Diversity, in its essence, then is a safeguard against ethnocentrism (making of one group as the norm for all groups). No cultures should be verbally and/or physically attacked based solely on the negative meaning given due to biological, cultural, political or socioeconomic differences (such as gender, age, race/ethnicity, political party, class, education, values, religious affiliation or sexual orientation The motivating factor for such attitude is fear, arising out of ignorance of the other culture, which is different from your own. Multiculturalism should be the only option open to educators, leaders and administrators in an ever-increasing culturally pluralistic environment. Today’s diverse student populations and workforce is simply not going to go away, but increase. This is the direction of the future multicultural, multiethnic, multilingual communities. And effective leaders are recognizing it. The art of managing diversity is thus of great concern to all persons charged with the responsibility of overseeing the work of others. Multiculturalism, then, may very well be part of an ongoing process which enables people to become world citizens–persons who are able to transfer their own racial/ethnic, gender, cultural and socio-political reality and identify with humankind throughout the world, at all levels of human needs.