Honoring Diversity Through Language and Literature Study and Spiritual Practice
How can we promote the acceptance of diversity and difference in small, seemingly homogeneous rural communities? What does it mean to belong — and not to belong — to such communities, and by what criteria do we measure and define such membership? What can we do, on a personal level, to foster respect for diversity and to promote multiple citizenships within the communities where we live and work? The presenters and participants in this workshop will address these and related questions. We believe that language and literature study and spiritual practice can work to widen individual and collective acceptance of diversity and, obversely, to challenge ethnocentrism. Drawing on our experiences of founding a Chinese language school for children in a predominantly English speaking rural community, establishing a Soto Zen Buddhist temple among this overwhelmingly Christian population, and creating and teaching university graduate and undergraduate courses focusing on spirituality and on Chinese language and literature, we shall discuss the importance of building public services and opportunities that cultivate diversity in civic life, and we shall suggest ways for negotiating and honoring difference and for extending inclusiveness in ostensibly harmonious, well-assimilated rural communities.
Keywords: Language Study, Literature Study, Spiritual Practice, Zen Buddhism, Rural North American Communities, Diversity, Difference, Community Membership
Dr. Z. Z. Lehmberg
Assistant Professor and Writing Center Director, English Department, Northern Michigan University
Prof Paul Lehmberg
English Department, Northern Michigan University