[Letter to the editor]Diversity a global realityImmigration is an ever-increasing reality around the world. While there are people who adamantly oppose immigration there are others who recognize the importance of a multicultural, rainbow-like society. In some traditionally homogenous societies like Japan, immigration is, to a certain degree, discouraged ― supposedly to maintain cultural purity, giving rise to an “us versus them” mentality.
Nations that actively promote tourism and foreign investment within their borders yet discriminate against foreigners for fear of infiltration or inundation by mass immigration are hypocritical and monstrously unaware of realities in the global age.
Diversity and the incalculable benefits of immigration are exemplified by one of America’s best institutions of higher education: Harvard University. Besides its historical legacy, stellar faculty and high-achieving students, Harvard is the epitome of diversity. Its multi-ethnic faculty and their tolerance of ideas and values different from one’s own are exceptional and worthy of emulation.
The reason why Harvard and other elite American universities remain in the upper echelons of international rankings starts in the classroom. At prestigious schools, diversity is not just a catchword or a slogan, but an embedded and protected value. At Harvard and other equivalent universities a Pakistani-American, Japanese-Canadian, white South African and an Italian-born German can engage in constructive dialogue and learn from each other. There is just no substitute for personal interaction. Without meaningful debate and a wide variety of participants from an array of backgrounds, universities cannot maintain their first-class reputation and claim to nourish the next generation of leaders.
Because of the “flattening world,” to borrow a phrase from New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman the next generation of change-agents and innovators will not exclusively come from Western Europe, the United States or Japan. The next generation of cancer specialists, abstract artists and mechanical engineers are now originating from places as far-flung as South Africa and Geoje Island.
No university or nation can afford protectionist policies or xenophobia as an unspoken ideology.
Dennis Yang, an English instructor, Gimhae Foreign Language High School