Our condominium and housing communities can be a great melting pot of cultural backgrounds and interests. As we head into another holiday season (Hallow-thanks-mas according to what’s currently displayed in Walmart), there are new opportunities to celebrate our differences and find common ground.

diverse celebrationWe are increasingly asked to recognize a much larger global picture of humankind. We make ourselves known to one another by infinite varieties of intelligence, language, race, values, politics, religion, national service, gender presentation, philosophy and a host of other elements common to humankind.  When we take the time to find common ground, we enrich our life experiences.

One resource to help in understanding our differences and similarities can be found in “Introduction to Community Psychology.” The publication discusses cultural humility as one approach to diversity, dynamics, complexity of identity and cultural considerations.

Celebrating the holidays is a great place to start building that foundation of growth. Consider a mulit-cultural celebration in your community to build awareness of other nationalities and philosophies. Incorporate music, decorations, costumes and foods of a particular background other than your own for a unique twist to your celebration.

Several other things can build your awareness of cultures:

  • Have a conversation: Seek out people from other cultures and ask about their holiday traditions. Listen to the stories, find out about special foods served or decorations put up to mark the festivities. Keeping an open mind is paramount to understanding – and accepting — cultural differences.
  • Do some research: Self-awareness of your own biases, values and beliefs can impact how you interact with persons with a different background or lifestyle than yourself. Do some research online or through academic sources on different cultures in the community. How do you feel about what you found? Share interesting cultural stories in a newsletter story or event.
  • Mark your calendar: List holidays that are different from your own. Take the time on those days to learn more about the traditions surrounding Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Winter Solstice, Diwali, Chinese New Year and other celebrations. com is a good resource. Even if your community does not include people who celebrate these holidays, everyone could benefit by learning and recognizing other cultural traditions.

Celebrating cultural diversity can benefit communities in meetings and in achieving association goals. The key to building effective working relationships is in finding our similarities. True appreciation of cultural diversity brings a change in perspective, leading to creative problem-solving and increased productivity.

thanksgiving diversityTry putting yourself in a situation where you make a real connection with someone of a different background, race, orientation or belief system, such as inviting neighbors to your Thanksgiving celebration. The recognition of a common humanity is the first step in the celebration of our differences.

Welcome diversity to your holiday celebrations to gain tolerance, acceptance and to foster an open mind about other cultures.