My personal journey towards developing awareness and skills related to diversity and equity include: becoming more aware of my own identity and how my lived experiences shape who I am; learning more about my colleagues and students and how their identities and experiences shape them; and learning more about equity issues, especially those related to structural racism.
I have been fortunate to participate in several trainings that have helped me in this learning process, such as: UW’s Undocu-Ally training to learn about the experiences of undocumented students; Leading with Racial Equity for Structural Transformation Workshop to learn about my own and others’ positions of advantages and disadvantages; Cultural Proficiency for Social Justice Training to explore intersections of identities; Mental Health First Aid Training and Forefront Suicide Prevention to learn about less-visible disabilities, and to assist students with mental health, self-care, and suicide awareness.
I recognize that facets of my social identity have provided me privilege in U.S. society. It is my responsibility to learn how this privilege contributes to marginalization of people, and how I can actively work against this. I am currently focussing on how I can incorporate antiracism in my teaching and advising. One way that I do so is to flatten the hierarchy by positioning myself as a learner alongside students, providing space for every student to have a voice, and to recognize that students’ voices come in different forms, not just spoken. I am also learning to recognize spaces where it is not my place to speak but rather to listen, then to take action.
In my work as a teacher and adviser, I take measures to establish trust and foster a sense of belonging, and to let students know they are welcome and respected in my office and classroom. I learn the pronouns students use, as well as preferred names, and I use inclusive language in our communication. Over the fifteen years that I have worked in higher education, I have had several opportunities to serve students from diverse backgrounds at various points in their academic journey, and I am mindful of the social and economic challenges that students face. One important aspect of equity is to recognize that not all students have had the same opportunities. I listen to where students are “at” and try to connect students with the resources they need.
In my current position with UW’s Scandinavian Studies Department, I am proud to have contributed to the conversations around access and equity, and inclusion, and to advocate for students when needed. In my courses, I incorporate literature by non-white authors such as Jason Dikité, Jonas Khemiri, Athena Farrokhzad; and scholars who bring up questions around identity and belonging what it means to be Swedish such as Selma Lagerlöf, Rosa Taikon, and Ylva Habel. I also encourage students to reflect and share about their own identities.
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