Responding to Diversity in Rockville

The deadline for the questionnaire for Community Ministries of Rockville passed on October 15, so I thought you’d be interested in my response (and their intriguing questions):

Question: Rockville is becoming increasingly diverse in its ethnic, racial and religious composition. What will you do to encourage effective assimilation, participation and celebration of their various gifts?

Answer:  We must actively work today for the Rockville of the future and it is clear that it will be more culturally diverse in the next few decades. Unfortunately, we have made little progress in making other cultures feel welcome and indeed, some people are actually afraid and hostile to these new residents, reminding me of my parents’ experience when they moved to the United States after the war. We need to make greater efforts to reach out to them to the places where they live, work, and play, rather than expecting them to come to us. For example, more recreational activities, such as badminton, mahjongg, soccer, or cricket, or additional cultural events, such as Chinese New Year, that are specifically targeted to those groups. As they see that the community has developed an interest in them and shows that we value their cultures, they will reciprocate. Finally, we need to expand our Neighborhood Services staff to be able to adequately focus on these opportunities.

Follow-up:  Diversity means different things to different people, including wealth, culture, ethnicity, religion, age, education, skills, and sexual orientation.  Where does Rockville lack diversity and where is it exemplary?

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