Are You Listening? Responding to the Challenges of Diversity
“I Am More Than A Stereotype”: Stories of Change and Hope
Parisa Mehran (Osaka University)
This presentation is a journey to my activism and identity reconstruction as an Iranian English teacher/researcher in Japan by recounting my critical events—unexpected incidents that significantly influence an individual (Mertova & Webster, 2012)—and my personal narratives—stories which we tell ourselves and others about our personal lived experiences (Baker, 2006, 2014). I will discuss how these incidents and stories have changed my life and how I am trying different ways to be a change agent to dispel stereotypes about my identity. I will introduce my weblog, titled “I Am More Than A Stereotype” (beyondyourstereotypes.wordpress.com), where I write about my ouch moments in the hope of eliminating macro and microaggressions, defined as “the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership” (Sue, 2010, p. 3), and stereotypes by making the invisible visible. I will also explain and illustrate how I create classrooms of and for activism by integrating my weblog into my lessons and by introducing the real Iran and Iranian people behind the news to my students.
Bridging the Gap Between Ideal and Reality: Diversity Awareness in Action
Gerry Yokota (Osaka University)
In my follow-up session, I will facilitate discussion about how educators can and should be responding to the voices of people like Parisa. Are we making as much effort as she is to be change agents and dispel stereotypes, or could some of us be a little too comfortable with an inequitable status quo? I have over a decade of experience serving as chair of human rights and sexual harassment committees at my university, and offering diversity training in FD and PD seminars for both high school teachers and university professors through our Open University and Teaching and Learning Support Center, especially for professors using EMI in classes with international students. But I am acutely aware that all too often, the programs and publications offered by our institutions are little more than superficial PR hype that fails to address the realities on our campuses. How can we move beyond talking the talk to walking the walk? As a bridge and springboard (diving board?) for discussion, I propose that we discuss the JALT Code of Conduct, a short one-page document that is easily accessible on the website, and explore the roles we are challenged to play in realizing the ideals we profess to uphold.