Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Pushing the Walls of the Classroom Aside

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Pushing the Walls of the Classroom Aside

Article excerpt

We talk about being a part of the "global community" and how our country is "so diverse" so much that I wonder if we truly comprehend indeed how much our world is changing and what it all portends. The increasing diversity on our college campuses really hit me when I traveled back to my alma mater Wellesley College last month for an alumni function. The last night on campus we were serenaded by an a cappella group, which 10 years ago when I was a student, was predominately White. Fast forward to 2004 and the group's demographics had significantly changed--Asian, Indian, you name it. While at the conference, an alum who is a middle school math teacher in Northern California told me that out of the several "Black" students in her class, only one had two Black parents. Could that be, I wondered. But then I thought about my own circle of friends, who I must say, are quite a "diverse" bunch. Out of the half dozen girlfriends I have that are married, I counted two that married someone of the same ethnic group. Take yours truly, for example. I grew up assuming I'd marry an African American Baptist like myself, and I married a Nigerian Catholic.

It is children from such unions that are sitting in America's classrooms today and will increasingly dominate this country's classrooms in a few years. They likely will have at least one parent that was either born in another country and or speak another language besides English. As a result, there's a fairly good chance that the child will, if not be entirely fluent in another language, be able to understand and speak a few words of a foreign language. So although the percentage of American students that study abroad or are able to speak another language (fluently) has historically been abysmally low, I think we'll see a change over time. If one has parents that speak another language or if one travels internationally to visit relatives, such experiences can only result in future students seeking a more international approach to their education.

We reported a few years ago that the events of Sept. 11, 2001, actually sparked an interest among more American students to travel abroad, as opposed to staying closer to home. …

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