Diversity: Its Power and Challenges
王派瓏MBChB Medicine, Year 2
Imagine a group of young, inspired people from diverse backgrounds seated in a circle, having a discussion on a particular topic. These people have an array of opinions and views, for they had different experiences in their upbringing and education. Different sides of the story are being presented - so far it seems perfect, doesn’t it? However, have you considered Mr. A whose opinion wasn’t heard because his culture isn’t considered mainstream? Have you noticed the likelihood of Ms. B having prejudice and holding stereotypes against Mr. C before the discussion even started, just because he represents a minority group? Have you wondered why Mrs. D was barely talking? It was because of her language barrier as she is barely proficient in English. I’m sure, at this point, I have made it pretty clear to you that the concept of diversity is not always as glamorous and idealistic as we think it is.
Prior to being admitted to Morningside, I studied at a United World College (UWC), where I learnt about diversity through first-hand experience by immersing myself in a campus where more than 80 nationalities were represented by 250 young and inspired scholars. It is through those two years that I spent in UWC that I have come to realise the pros and cons of this popular concept: ‘diversity’.
My Time at UWC
Nevertheless, as diversity is two-sided, it forces us to step out of our comfort zones to broaden our horizons and gain perspectives that make a true ‘global citizen’. This is exactly why I chose Morningside, for it has a diverse student body which I am certain will put me into that situation described at the beginning of my blog countless times. Through discussions that happen occasionally at the bridge, I have not only learned to be a better listener, but I have also come to realise my own prejudice and stereotypes over others and the ones other people have against me.
I can confidently tell you that Morningside celebrates diversity. With its generous scholarships to both local and international students, no one is rejected from quality education due to their disadvantaged financial backgrounds. The College is a lively community where the Junior Fellows from diverse backgrounds, each with their own story to tell, are passionate to teach and engage with students. Even when arguments arise, everyone is kind to one another and is always willing to listen and have each other’s back.
Furthermore, the College is supportive of all sorts of student initiatives. For instance, I started my own student group, Morningside Medics, one month into university last year. To this date, I still vividly remember how supportive the response from the Warden was, and how the society could grow and expand rapidly given all the constructive criticism I received from my teachers and peers from Morningside.
Inaugural members of Morningside Medics
I started this new group in the light of promoting diversity in the field of medicine and health promotion. Firstly, Morningside Medics prioritises inclusivity: it is open to not just medical students but also students of any major, as we believe that anyone can be a medic if one is willing to participate (even though sometimes we call ourselves a medical society). Secondly, we shed light on a diverse range of health topics that are interrelated with our everyday life — from recent mass-scale health-issues such as the Australian bushfires, the use of teargas in protests, and COVID-19, to global health problems that have existed for decades such as diet and obesity, tobacco/substance/alcohol use, mental health awareness, HIV/AIDS, et cetera.
Amidst the pandemic, the future is rather uncertain, but I have not given up on planning for my next academic year! Although going abroad for exchange is not an option, I have enrolled to continue studying Spanish (which I hope to minor in, eventually) and also German at the beginner’s level. If you know Spanish and/or German, please speak in either language to me because I desperately need practice :’) (P.S. I also know a little Arabic and Japanese!) I’m optimistic that being multilingual will aid me in achieving my long-term goal to abolish discrimination and stereotypes in both the workplace and greater society while advocating for the benefits and power of diversity.
I’m looking forward to meeting everyone F2F soon in different societies, college teams (especially rowing and volleyball), or even during communal dinner. I’m very chill and always down for a chat over coffee!
Me with friends in our college gowns at the Morningside patio