Students lead conversation on hidden diversity in Provo

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A panel discussion, sponsored by Culturs Magazine and the BYU Public Relations Student Society of America, opened a conversation to address challenges for culturally diverse people. 

Some BYU students are leading an effort to embrace the hidden diversity that enriches their campus community.

Talavou Fitisemanu pointed out remaining curious is an important step to navigate being culturally in-between.

“Man, just stay curious and you’ll be all right,” Fitisemanu, a BYU student panelist, said. “It’s OK to be misunderstood and how much we learn from that — the empathy, that you leave with more curiosity than assumptions for other people.”

Lauren Walker has lived in multiple locations throughout the world. She said you’re better able to understand people once you make the effort to show genuine interest in learning about someone from a culture different than your own.

“I think just talking to them and finding out about their story and their beliefs, you know — their religion, their culture, what they do and their family and all that stuff — is really important to being able to understand someone and connect with them on a deeper level,” Walker said.

According to an April 2023 report, Wallethub ranked Provo one of the least diverse cities in the U.S. Vesa Tavaga questioned the depth of that ranking and said there is a lot of diversity that isn’t visible. 

“Just from today’s event, it’s showing me that there is a bunch of hidden diversity here, but it’s just not as easy to see compared to most cultures,” Tevaga said.

Tavaga is part of the PRSSA team striving to foster community and create belonging for all.

“Most times when people come into new cultures, it’s easy to feel like you’re intruding into a new atmosphere. But that’s not the case whatsoever,” Tavaga said.

The panel discussion, sponsored by PRSSA, is part of their “Unity in Uniqueness” campaign, which aims to foster inclusivity and understanding across communities.

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