May 15 - 17, 2018 - In a three-day workshop, members of Ashesi’s staff and faculty explored questions of diversity, and committed to actions that will foster a more positive and inclusive atmosphere on campus. Organised by the Office of Diversity and International Programs (ODIP), the workshop was designed to help members of the community to be more mindful of Ashesi’s diverse environment, while actively promoting a campus where each member of the community feels that he or she truly belongs.
“We are such a diverse campus, so we are constantly looking for ways to ensure that we are being more inclusive in our interactions with one another- both in and out of the classroom- and giving that sense of belonging to the others,” said Millicent Adjei, Associate Director of the ODIP. “This can be achieved by first understanding ourselves; what is important to us as individuals, and some of the potential conflicts that come with working across cultures. After that, we have to develop the needed tools, to equip us to deal with some of those conflicts when they come up.”
The workshop, tailored to staff and faculty, was held as a primer for a wider campus exercise, aimed at confronting members of the community with issues of diversity and inclusion. Over the last 16 years, Ashesi has grown from 30 students, in its first year, to over 800 students from some 20 countries. To effectively accommodate the growing breadth of cultures, Ashesi continues to seek ways to create a campus and community that is not only a strong academic institution, but is also sensitive, accepting and inclusive of people’s differences. For Human Resources Director, this step should start with the staff and faculty.
“Ashesi has a strong stance in favour of diversity and inclusion, and we have tried in many ways to incorporate it into our policies, the way we do things, the way we interact with our students and even in our infrastructure,” she said. “It was important to start with staff and faculty as we form the core of the institution that heavily influences the students, before rolling out this workshop to the entire community. Regardless of the progress we have made over time, we realized we needed to learn to be intentionally sensitive on an individual level, given the mix of people within our community.”
The workshop included a blend of training modules and exercises, where faculty and staff simulated scenarios that drew on them to be aware of negative situations that people deal with when they find themselves in foreign environments.
“Often in our daily interactions, you may not realise that you are being insensitive towards other people,” said William Annoh, Program Coordinator for the Business Administration Department. “So it was very interesting to learn what other people perceive as insensitive, particularly through some of the personal stories that were shared. That was a highlight for me.”