Sep 22, 2018
Dr. Matthew Ari Jendian’s speaks about diversity during the Fresno State Talks at the Satellite student Union on Feb. 15, 2017. (Daniel Avalos/The Collegian)

Diversity ‘makes us who we are’

Fresno State professors who demonstrate the university’s motto of “Discover, Diversity and Distinction” were offered a platform to showcase their focus on diversity.

Dr. Matthew Ari Jendian’s talk was one of three “TED Talk” style lectures at Fresno State. The speakers were nominated by students who believe their professors demonstrate the university’s motto.

Jendian’s lecture, titled “FORWARD TOGETHER: Valuing Differences & Mobilizing Similarities to Achieve Common Goals,” began by thanking people he has formed relationships with over his professional career. They included past professors, current colleagues and students.

“Relationships are critical to our work,” Jendian said. “If we don’t recognize the role other people play in our lives, we won’t realize the powers that they bring to us, the energy they give to us.”

He explained the different elements that make people diverse. He chose specific categories, including age and languages, then asked people who represent that category to stand. Those who remained seated were asked to applaud for those standing up in celebration of diversity.

“The inner sections of these different dimensions of diversity really make us who we are,” Jendian said. “Each of us is a unique blend of the inner sections of these various forms of diversity.”

Jendian said that knowing information about each other does not mean people can judge each others. He reflected on a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. that said, “Unity is the great need of the hour.”

“Unity and community starts with knowing who you are and where you come from, and being open to understanding that about others,” Jendian said.

He added that empathy makes people more united as a human race.

“The first step of empathy is seeing ourselves in other people,” Jendian said. “Empathy is the key to understanding others.”

Jendian said there are more similarities than differences among humans. Humans have a similar outlook on five social institutions: family, education, religion, economics and politics.

“It’s a biological fact through the human genome project that every human being on the planet is at least a 50th cousin of every other human being on the planet,” Jendian said.

Jendian explained that having all this knowledge lets people have the potential to make a difference in our world.

“Ultimately it comes down to action,” Jendian said.

He said humans must act on their knowledge to see a difference in society. He added that the audience members should apply what they learn.

Navmit Dhesi, a senior marketing major, was the student who nominated Jendian.

“He was a great fit for Fresno State Talks because I think he has a lot to share with the Fresno State community as a whole,” Dhesi said.

Dhesi has known Jendian for more than three years by being a part of the humanics program at Fresno State, where Jendian serves as director. The program offers students a hands-on experience to gain a certificate in administration and leadership for community benefit organizations.

“The relationship goes beyond being a faculty member because humanics is such a hands-on program,” Dhesi said.

Last year, Dhesi had Jendian as a professor and she shared that his class was very eye-opening due to all of his work in the community. She said that the extra effort he puts into his teaching style made an impact on her.

“He’s someone that’s been very involved in our community and definitely has a lot that I think should be shared outside of those that get to directly interact with him,” Dhesi said.

Dhesi was impressed during the lecture when Jendian spoke about how shapes are like people. He explained that if you need a specific shape for a job, substituting another shape will not work.

“There’s strength in our differences, and at times we need those differences to solve our issues and problems,” Dhesi said.

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