SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Diversity Day 2017 marked a unique change to the program's nine year history at Schriever Air Force Base, Friday, Aug. 18.
Event coordinators organized an interactive platform for Schriever Airmen to experience different cultures through in-depth immersion. Each individual course highlighted a specific portion of that culture, such as food, music or dance, and was directed by one of Schriever's own members.
"I find it important to stand with my culture and represent it because this was how I was brought up in life and many of my beliefs are based on these teachings from my parents," said Staff Sgt. Antonia Thomas, 310th Operations Support Squadron commander support staff and director of the Native American Heritage class. "This is why I carry myself in a certain way and this is why I am the person that I am."
Airmen stepped up to teach the 19 different classes available to the Schriever community, all of whom had two hour-long chalks to teach their peers all they could about their cultures some classes highlighting how differences can translate to strengths.
"It's important that Schriever personnel know that our wing is filled with very talented people from every walk of life," said David Raines, 50th Space Communications Squadron logistics support and director of Diversity in the Pop Culture Business class. "Diversity makes our organization more well-rounded and more effective.
"Research demonstrates that inclusive organizations outperform their peers, and these organizations embed these strategies in almost all management decisions," he continued.
From the opening ceremony, to informative courses, to the food, performances and booths at the end of the day; Diversity Day’s focus was to exemplify strength through our differences, and unity in knowledge.
"Diversity is a good thing, teamwork is a good thing, mutual respect for each other, regardless of background, circumstance, situation, is important. That is the focus today. The focus is not about how we are different per se; it is about how what we bring to the table complements what's on the table --How we can best help each other to be better and to be a stronger team," said Col. Jennifer Grant, 50th Space Wing commander.
The teamwork and diversity Grant highlighted in her message to the wing translated perfectly in the execution of Diversity Day.
The booths, performances and food at the end of the day an example of the culmination of culture, or depiction of strength and beauty through diversity, the program was designed to convey. The performances were able to motivate on-lookers to dance, sing or engage with the display before them; while the food, partnered with the cultural booths, were able to spark an interest and dialogue.
"For me, that's what the whole program is actually about. It's not about what you know, it's what you don't know about other cultures and other groups," said Ed Vaughn, 50th Space Wing Equal Opportunity director. "When you see that light go on and you see people being educated and entertained and they're jazzed up about (diversity of cultures) - that's what I look forward to seeing."
Event coordinators such as Vaughn assure Schriever members Diversity Day will continue to grow and change to adapt to the shifts in culture that can be seen through time, emphasizing the goal of Diversity Day to always be a learning experience for base members, to better understand all Airmen.
“That's what the U.S. is,” said Senior Airman Jeramy Anderson, 50th Space Communications Squadron cyber sustainment technician. “We are filled with a big hodgepodge of diversity.”