Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) celebrated its annual Diversity and Inclusion Day June 15 aboard Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) to recognize the heritage and many cultures which comprise its active duty and civilian workforce.
Keynote speaker Claude Koehl of Intercultural Services, an organization that helps develop cross-cultural communication and leadership, spoke of the importance in keeping an open mind when developing first impressions.
“We need to go beyond the ‘what we see is what we get’,” she said. “Visual clues and auditory clues need to be questioned because we tend to be a surprising mix of characteristics, interests and experiences.”
“For example, former heavy weight champion Mike Tyson’s hobby is raising pigeons, the very symbol of peace. And NFL running back Herschel Walker practiced ballet as a means of training during his career,” she said.
Koehl concluded her remarks by encouraging the audience to create a dialogue with others as a means to learn about the other person.
“There is no other way to go beyond first impressions and development an accurate three-dimensional read of our social partners unless we ask questions about who they are, how they see themselves and what they like to do,” she said. “If we don’t ask, we won’t really know if they are actually similar or dissimilar to us.”
Afterward, teammates enjoyed West African music and dance by the Teye Sa Thiosanner African Drum and Dance Company. The Hung Vuong Sports Club followed with a traditional Vietnamese lion dance and a kung fu exhibition. The Portuguese American Dancers of San Diego concluded the cultural presentation of the event.
Other festivities during the 90-minute program included a wide range of food from barbeque to Asian and Mexican cuisine and a classic car display.
This year’s event was sponsored by the FRCSW Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee and NAVAIR’s Diversity Advisory Teams, and held at FRCSW’s Building 325 tarmac.