Appreciating Student Diversity: Seeing Culture and Validating Home Language

Credit: iStock.com/skynesher
Credit: iStock.com/skynesher

As I gave one of my international students feedback at my desk, I noticed he stood too close for my comfort. I inched away from him, and in response, he moved closer. We did this until I could move no further and had to ask him to step back. It was not the first time something like this had happened to me. I had worked with many students from other countries whose cultural rules of proximity were different from my own. This cultural difference was obvious, but what about when it is not so obvious, as in the case of subtle differences between people from the same country? The heterogeneity in the US means that students bring a variety of cultures, knowledge, and languages into the classroom. Do our approaches to our students and teaching fully appreciate this richness of diversity?


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