SCHENECTADY- Brainiacs like Albert Einstein readily admit that they don’t know everything. Einstein took this a step further when he said, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
St. Kateri’s congregation is taking that idea and putting it into action with their workshop called “Recognizing and Breaking Through Prejudices.”
Elaine Bair, one of the workshop’s organizers, said that in the past year or so there’s been a rising need for more programs that are directed at diversity.
“ The world is crying out with need. . . with the refugee crisis, the terror attacks in our own country,” Bair said.
Closer to home, Clair Aimi, another organizer, said that she’s seen instances of discrimination in Schenectady.
When she first moved to the area from Vermont a few years ago, she was excited to find a plethora of cultures in the Capital Region.
But soon, she noticed instances of prejudice or discrimination.
“That really surprised me,” Aimi said.
Two years ago, while volunteering with Schenectady Inner City Ministry, Aimi took a diversity with Roxanne Wright, a diversity trainer and facilitator for the state government and local corporations for over 15 years.
Everything she learned stuck with her so when St. Kateri’s began to consider how they could tackle a topic like diversity, Aimi knew exactly who to turn to.
“We seem to view difference in negative terms . . . I don’t think it’s even intentional,” Wright said.
With her workshops, she has people discuss differences in race, in gender, in class, in marriage status, etc. Though not in a negative light, but in a celebratory way.
“When someone tells me, ‘Oh, I didn’t even notice that you’re black,’ it’s not a compliment. How would a man feel if someone walked up to him and said ‘Oh, I didn’t even notice you were a man’?’” Wright said.
However, Wright recognizes that people don’t intentionally offend each other.
That’s one of the biggest draws to a workshop like hers.
When people hear the word ‘diversity’ or the term ‘diversity training’ they often say that they already know all about it.
But diversity isn’t really a topic one can ‘know all about’. It’s continually evolving and developing, according to Wright.
By the year 2043, whites or caucasians will no longer be the majority in the United States, according to the U.S. Census.
Thus, developing an appreciation for diversity will only become more important with time.
Wright said that the workshop isn’t designed to make people feel guilty or defensive about anything they’ve said or done in the past, but to reveal different things that might offend others, even though it might be unintentional.
Instead, the workshop is almost entirely interactive, having groups of people discuss their differences, things that may offend them, and various ways that people can address any sort of offense.
When: 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5
Where: St.Kateri Tekakwitha Parish Center 2216 Rosa Road, Schenectady
RSVP by Oct. 29 to Clair Aimi: firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 881-7295