By Windy Locke
Small town living has many wonderful aspects. There is a sense of community that’s palpable in everyday life. You see teachers in the grocery store, pray with your neighbors at church, and classmates are inevitably teammates if your kids play any sports. The people are the bedrock of any town. Their values, beliefs, and perceptions are woven into the very fabric of life there. Often times, life in a small town means a lack of diversity and a narrow view of the world due to the homogeneous nature of the town. We are fortunate enough to not have these same limitations.
Gwinnett County has long been known for its rich multicultural history. The diversity represented in our schools draws new families to our community, bringing more opportunities for us to learn and grow together. To cultivate this growth, it’s important that we equip our children with a viewpoint of the world that stretches far beyond the I-985 corridor. Their level of multicultural awareness has the ability to re-shape the future of our community.
There are many ways that we can grow an awareness in them that will increase trust, communication and foster a more loving community. We can teach through small experiences like seeking out cultural activities locally, of which you can find in abundance. This may include things as simple as eating at an ethnic restaurant like Rico’s World Kitchen or Havana South where you can try foods of another cultural group. You could attend an event like the Suwanee Jazz Fest where you might listen to music performed by people who are different from you or watch a play at one of our wonderful community theaters where the actors are predominantly of a different ethnicity. Although these are only small acts, they are all learning experiences. Exposing your family to a variety of events helps children understand their uniqueness in the world and appreciate and respect the uniqueness of others.
If you’re up for tackling the big stuff, there are plenty of other ways to get involved. You can volunteer at the schools. Help them build multicultural student programs so the students can experience new things and share their experiences and heritage with others. Encourage and join in the community dialogue on diversity issues so we can all gain a new perspective and model what it looks like to lead with love. Being a role model for our children is perhaps the most important thing we can do. Get involved in local organizations, run for public office, or support candidates you feel represent your values and can move our city forward.
Our children are the next generation of leaders, educators, workers, and parents. We have the opportunity now to sow seeds of love and inclusion that will be harvested for generations to come.