Understanding Diversity

James Hankins reflects on NC State as a diverse institution and explains how his experiences interacting with a variety of people/personalities in college have helped him in his current position as a high school teacher.

Interview on 2011-07-14


00:00:00.000 I wouldn't be the person that I am, I wouldn't be as passionate about education,
00:00:06.557 I wouldn't be as passionate as I am about service and public service
00:00:12.156 if it had not been for my experiences at State,
00:00:17.295 my positive and my negative experiences.
00:00:20.540 I am thankful for my negative experiences at State
00:00:23.933 because they have informed me as to who I am and how I react to different situations.
00:00:28.836 They have informed me about how people can be. I'm not saying I was naive when I came in and thought everybody was good, but I
00:00:35.680 really did have a perception that everybody was working for the greater good-quote, unquote-
00:00:41.522 and I learned that not everybody's working for the greater good unless the greater good is the greater good for themselves,
00:00:46.336 so I learned the hard lessons that way.
00:00:49.555 I also learned that you can build lifelong friendships, you can build things that you call brotherhood,
00:00:55.099 you can build connections with people that you might never have met before,
00:01:00.866 and State is the only school in the system,
00:01:04.648 having visited other schools and been around through the Association of Student Governments,
00:01:08.558 having been around just traveling in that sense,
00:01:11.985 NC State is the only school in the system, in my experience,
00:01:15.946 where you really get a diverse group of people together
00:01:20.672 and have them interact with each other without having a ton of conflict.
00:01:26.203 There's a lot of underlying issues at State when it comes to
00:01:30.008 race and all different types of issues that need to be addressed by the administration, they need to be addressed by the school,
00:01:37.789 but for the most part I've met people from various different backgrounds
00:01:43.691 that I never would have thought that I could call a friend of mine,
00:01:47.944 being from Wilmington.
00:01:49.904 Now I call them friends, and I'm able to interact with those types of people now on a daily basis at school.
00:01:55.992 Teaching is all about the people that come in your classroom.
00:02:00.286 You have students that come in from various different backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses.
00:02:04.709 They might have a different opinion on something from somebody else that might be radically different.
00:02:11.003 Some of them might be really religious, some of them not. All types of things come into your classroom
00:02:15.415 and as a teacher you have to know how to be able to deal with each one of those students as individuals.
00:02:20.945 You can't treat them-. One of my colleagues one time said something to me that was terrible.
00:02:24.617 She said that you have to kind of look at students as numbers, as kind of like meat puppets,
00:02:29.840 and I thought about that and I said, no, that's not the case.
00:02:34.267 I can come up here and put the information on the board and if they get it they get it and if they don't they don't,
00:02:39.142 and I can still have my job and come home every day and relax and not worry about anything,
00:02:43.788 but if I cannot connect with those students or try to connect with those students, each and every one of them individually,
00:02:50.178 then I've failed as a teacher. That's what you're supposed to do.
00:02:53.952 The only school in this system that can prepare you for that on
00:03:01.241 a level in which you really get diversity is NC State.