Vail Daily column: The boon of diversity in western Colorado
May 16, 2017
Editor's note: Nicky Toor's essay, following the theme "Broadening the conversation: How diversity shapes our lives in western Colorado," was one of seven winning entries in Colorado Mountain College's 50th anniversary essay contest, sponsored in conjunction with Colorado Mountain News Media. Each winning essay earned its writer a $500 scholarship to CMC; one recipient received an additional $500 as the college-wide winner.
Diversity is one of our greatest sources of strength and prosperity in Western Colorado. Colorado is already substantially more diverse than the rest of the country, with most of the change coming from younger generations. Having a diverse population offers many benefits to all inhabitants.
With a diverse population, we get to experience other cultures, whether it be through cuisine, music, sports or a variety of other ways. We learn significantly more about the world and other people when we experience other cultures firsthand, rather than in a classroom.
In terms of business, being exposed to diversity and multiculturalism at a young age will help create better employees who deal with international business, as they will already be more knowledgeable of other cultures' customs and traditions. Diversity also has myriad benefits in the workplace and on campus. The combination of different ideas that would otherwise not be present causes an increase in productivity and creativity. Problems are solved more quickly and efficiency is increased.
Language skills are one of the major benefits of having a diverse population. People naturally learn a language best at a very young age, so when one lives in an area that has multiple languages spoken, they will begin to learn both. Most likely, these languages will also be offered in local schools, broadening the opportunity for students to master new languages.
Being bilingual is an incredibly useful skill for virtually any career, as well as having proven cognitive benefits. Being bilingual in the workplace means that the company can reach out to a wider customer and employee base. It is especially useful in education, as many students speak a language other than English as their primary language. Someone who is bilingual can help teach these students English much easier than someone who only speaks English.
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Diversity is especially prevalent in Eagle County, which has the 15th most diverse school district in the state of Colorado. Steamboat Springs is also a hotbed of diversity. For four years now, they have hosted the annual Integrated Communities' World Fiesta, a party that celebrates all the different cultures in Steamboat. According to Millie Beall, treasurer and past president of Integrated Community, "The mission of Integrated Community is to integrate all people. The fiesta is about that — integration of friends and neighbors of all nationalities, eating, dancing and celebrating."
The Leadville area is also rather diverse, with approximately 25 percent of residents coming from a Hispanic background. This adds a vibrant dose of Hispanic culture to the town, with several amazing Mexican restaurants. Coming from a city that was very homogeneous, I can say it's refreshing to live in such a diverse area.
To conclude, diversity has a decidedly positive impact on our lives here in Western Colorado. We gain greater understanding of the world and other cultures, improve efficiency in the workplace and foster bilingualism. The Colorado Mountain College communities are some of the most diverse communities in Western Colorado and as such, they experience the myriad benefits diversity brings.
Nicky Toor attends Colorado Mountain College in Leadville.
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