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Chapter 1: Diversity

THE VOICES PROJECT, CHAPTER 1: DIVERSITY

The Voices Project began in the fall of 2009 as a method for students to examine the question:  what is it like to be "different"?  Students in a psychology course interviewed people from different races, religions, nationalities, ethnicities, social classes, health conditions, and lifestyles to find out if the stereotypes we typically hear about these groups are true.

The following are excerpts from stories written by students as part of this project:

 Man with AIDS

"If my softball friends said anything discriminating about AIDS, they did not say it to my face. Although they probably talked about my disease behind my back, I'm glad that they never said anything to me directly. I would not have wanted to know how they really felt. A year after I was diagnosed, I was hanging out with a friend of mine... We were listening to the radio, and a commercial for an AIDS walk came on. After the commercial, my friend's band member said, 'We should just take all the homosexuals and people with AIDS and put them on an island and just blow it up. That would solve this problem.' He had no idea that a man with AIDS was standing right next to him."

Muslim College Student

"I also have a job just like any other college student; I work at a clothing store. This is where I experienced my first form of discrimination. One day while the store was very busy, I was helping a customer when I heard a man yell, 'Hey, why don't you take that tablecloth off your head so you can hear me!' I simply turned to the man and calmly responded, 'No thank you, I would rather keep it on.' After an older woman heard the man say this to me, she walked over, looked me in the face, and said, 'I think you look beautiful!' While the man was leaving the store, I saw a look of embarrassment come across his son's face. I didn't let it get to me because it doesn't matter to me what others think about my hijab or my religion; it is my decision, nobody else's."

Nineteen readers--including students, faculty, deans, and community members--read the stories of the interviewees on November 5, 2009. Over 325 people attended this performance to hear the real life stories of people considered by society as “different” to learn about how their culture and experiences have affected their lives.