As we welcome Hispanic Heritage Month, I began to think about what it means to be Hispanic. Growing up in a family with deep-rooted Hispanic culture, I thought all kids went home and had homemade tortillas with dinner, all families had at least 40 people come together at Christmas for tamales and singing, and that culture and family are important. My grandmother came to the United States from Mexico as a small child in the early 1900’s. She was sure to share all the richness of the country and culture she left as a child so that she would not forget, and we could share in it with her. I thank her for infusing culture, traditions, and values so deeply into the fabric of our lives. As I grew older, I obviously learned that not all families are the same. Families, cultures, and traditions differ from others and are also the same in many ways.
In the times that we are in, wouldn’t it be advantageous to reach across gender, race, and cultures and learn about someone else’s life experiences? I decided to delve deeper and take on a challenge to connect with a 180 partner. You may be wondering what a 180 partner is. A 180 partner is someone whom you may think is 180 degrees different from you. They may seem the opposite of you in a myriad of ways like views, culture, gender, race.
I built up enough nerve and reached out to a colleague. In our first meeting, we discussed what this 180-partner adventure might look like. We found that we both have a love for reading. It was easy for us to build in two books and focus on the perspective of women, culture, equity, and voice. I won’t share what we ponder or put out there, but I will say that I have begun to uncover some things about myself that I hadn’t really taken time to think about or didn’t even know. During our conversations, the similarities are beginning to unfold. The beauty of our differences is making way for invigorating conversations!
I cannot encourage you enough to reach out to someone and ask if they would like to partner with you around a book, discussions, or articles that explore diversity. There are many reasons to have a 180 partner. Here are the top 5 reasons I think you might benefit from a 180 partner.
5. Gets you connected! You get to connect with someone as many of us are working remotely!
4. It’s an opportunity to embrace diversity. You can enter a cultural exchange learning something new.
3. Deepen self-awareness. Tune into how you feel as you are learning more about others and yourself!
2. Reflect on unconscious biases. Reflect on some biases you may be having toward others.
And the #1 reason to get a 180 partner in the grand scope of things…
1. Makes the world a better place. I feel strongly that this type of engagement can begin to change the world. Think about the times we are in. Could being open to understanding and being compassionate about the differences and similarities make us better?
As we collectively combine our experiences, can we better deal with complex issues and make this place better now and for future generations? By positively interacting and learning about people who seem different from us, can we reduce conflict and develop innovative solutions to issues in the world or our own communities? Why not entertain the idea of reaching out to someone and learn more about their culture and them as a person? It could be just what we need.