Building community in the midst of diversity

by Lt. Colonel Alicia Burger – 

Have you ever wondered why God seems to bring certain groups of people together at a particular time in history to share a common moment? I have. As a matter of fact, I cannot cease to be amazed every year as we start the adventure of two new sessions coming together for the first time to share a common moment at the College for Officer Training.

An observer could see the different backgrounds, races, cultures, languages, walks of life, and world views and easily feel compelled from the onset to say, “This will not work.” Yet, here we are every year; by God’s will and by his grace we are challenged to build community in the midst of our diversity.

In the six Multicultural Perspective seminars that are conducted during the two years of training, the cadets have an opportunity to experiment and practice in a safe environment, expanding cultural tolerance for that which may seem “different,” “unusual” and even “strange” to them. These classes are designed to be very interactive so that cadets not only learn new multicultural concepts and theories, but also have the opportunity through simulation exercises to feel what someone else may be experiencing. Who we are is so deeply rooted in our national, ethnic and family cultural background that we can hardly expect to be changed. What we can strive for is to understand, to empathize and to learn to love, in spite of our differences.

In his book, One New People, Manuel Ortiz reminds us that the call to live out the unity we already possess in Christ and the celebration of our cultural diversity is constantly leavened by the gospel. We really all do belong together.

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