Diversity & Inclusion Statement
D a m i á n R o b l e s
My first contact with diversity came very early on my life. I was born in Huajuapan de León, a town in norther Oaxaca, and raised in an even smaller Oaxacan town, Zacatepec. I identify with my mestizo roots, a mix of Zapotec-Mixtec and Spaniard descent. Zacatepec is in a Mixtec area, which means that from an early age I was aware of bilingualism. Several members of my family spoke or understood this Otomanguean language. Even those like me, who did not speak it, were immersed in this rich culture and linguistic heritage. During my adolescence, my life would change drastically, as my family followed my father to the United States. While until that point biculturalism had been a harmonious and natural state, when I arrived in the U.S. at fourteen I had to face a different kind of biculturalism and bilingualism head on. At first hardship came with it, obstacles that an indigenous immigrant like myself had to overcome. These included, discrimination by profile, and others, lack of communication. This process inspired me to re-define and re-find myself. Thanks to my background, I have been able to provide services at a center for immigrants in Trenton, New Jersey. There I was an ESL instructor to other immigrants like me who were facing the same problems I had faced before. I strongly believe knowing the recipient language of the host country is a great tool to build bridges between different cultures and seek mutual understanding.
I hope to serve as a model of success for other underprivileged minority individuals in the United States. The multilingual panorama of the United States is an example: the history of this country is shaped by the tradition of serving diverse populations. In addition, multilingualism is the face of the post-modern world we live in, since individuals of different social and linguistic backgrounds are interconnected in a myriad different ways. Finally, I express my commitment to diversity by establishing an inclusive egalitarian climate among my students, and any individual I encounter in my daily and professional life, welcoming all spectrum individuals, e.g. Hispanics, Caucasians, African Americans, disabled, veteran, LGBTQ+, religious and non-religious individuals. I strongly believe in a university that aims for inclusive excellence. More important, I believe the most genuine and tangible way of committing to diversity is the act of embracing diversity in our daily life.