“All towns are one, all people are my kin” (யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்) is the opening line to a 2000-year-old poem written by Kaniyan Poongunranar that is now inscribed in the Headquarters of the United Nations. Those words also hang on a sign that I put up on the door of my classroom in Scarborough.
Every morning, I have the privilege of waking up and heading to a classroom filled with bright and curious children. They ask me difficult questions — not only about addition and multiplication, but about ethics, morals and the most serious issues that face our world.
I’m inspired not only by the new and creative solutions they pose to solve these challenges, but equally by their willingness to consider the perspectives of their peers and effortlessly embrace the differences of those opinions.
Growing up in Scarborough, the new ideas and perspectives I’ve been exposed to have challenged my own ways of thinking, and helped me be a better, more inclusive person.
Now, as a teacher, a trustee with the Toronto District School Board and a community leader, I’ve seen the diversity of students, parents and families who make up Scarborough, and learned that what makes this diversity remarkable is that it is truly organic.
We come from all the corners of the earth, having been shaped by experiences of all kinds, and while we so often talk about the differences in the food we eat and the languages we speak, there are also more fundamental aspects that inform Scarborough’s diversity of thought: socioeconomic background, race, gender, age, health.
Just as I am proud when I listen to my students speak with one another about challenging subjects in the classroom, I’m also proud when I listen to my colleagues and my neighbours have inclusive conversations in our workplaces and in our neighbourhoods that are founded in mutual respect. Scarborough is stronger when we find unity through our diversity.
In 2018, I am excited to continue listening to different perspectives, and I am excited to continue my work of bringing new, diverse voices from Scarborough to the table. As part of that work, I’m running to be the Ontario Liberal nomination candidate for Scarborough Centre.
The election takes place on Monday, January 22, and our team is working hard so that we can open up politics with new voices from Scarborough.
If you’d like to learn more about our campaign, and how you can help, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Unity Through Diversity”.