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Celebrating what makes us unique

Diversity Day honors heritage and beliefs

Created date

September 25th, 2015
Ashby Ponds resident
Ashby Ponds resident

“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”

—Max De Pree, American businessman and writer

Celebrating the individuality of its residents and staff, recently hosted a Diversity Day program, providing everyone the opportunity to recognize the heritage, beliefs, and characteristics of their neighbors.

The Erickson Living Diversity and Inclusion Council and the newly formed Ashby Ponds Resident Diversity and Inclusion Resource Group sponsored the event, which served to support the mission of fostering a diverse and inclusive culture. The groups champion initiatives to ensure that every person is treated with respect and dignity.

“I am so proud of our community for coordinating such a great event, and I’m excited to see how our dedication to diversity and inclusion at Ashby Ponds grows in future years,” says Jarka Slaninova, project manager at Ashby Ponds and member of the Erickson Living Diversity and Inclusion Council.

Time to celebrate

Jeff Watson, director of operations for Erickson Living and member of the Erickson Living Diversity and Inclusion Council, kicked off the day with a diversity presentation at the community located in Ashburn, Va.  

“It was an excellent keynote talk,” says Dr. Roshan Chaddha, member of the Resident Diversity and Inclusion Resource Group. “As a group, this was our first effort, and we are pleased to say that, thanks to Ashby Ponds staff and management, the entire day went very well.”

Following the keynote address, a variety of international cuisine was served for lunch across campus, including a “Taste of Peru” featuring Peruvian seafood chowder (chupe de camarones), two Peruvian entrées (pollo a la parrilla and causa rellena con pulpa de cangrejo), and a Peruvian dessert (mazamorra morada). 

“A diverse menu was served in all four of our restaurants,” says Roshan. “We really appreciated the total effort provided by the dining services staff. We received lots of positive resident remarks.”

Learning from each other

In the afternoon, an interactive diversity fair provided guests an opportunity to learn more about many of the resident groups on campus that honor heritage and diversity. Members of Ashby Ponds’ various religious organizations as well as the many language clubs participated in the fair. They included the sign language group; the Science and Faiths Forum; Unitarian Universalists; the genealogy group; and residents and staff from Japan, Albania, Ghana, and India.

Residents and staff also had the opportunity to “pin” their country or city of origin on a world map and a U.S. map.  Pins were positioned from Greenland to Bolivia to the Marshall Islands.

The day ended with a cultural variety show coordinated by Ashby Ponds residents. It featured performances of Bollywood dance as well as music from the Japanese koto instrument.  

Residents and staff enjoyed seven acts during the program, which featured resident performers as well as performers from across Washington, D.C.-area organizations such as the Mudra Arts Center, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sterling, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Christian Church of Reston.

Planning ahead

With the successful completion of Ashby Ponds’ first Diversity Day, the Resident Diversity and Inclusion Resource Group is looking for additional ways to promote and foster individual diversity on campus. The group hopes to sponsor quarterly cultural and educational programs, including guest lectures and partnerships with local community outreach programs. 

“Ashby Ponds welcomes and accepts people of all cultures and backgrounds,” says Roshan. “By building on events like Diversity Day, we hope to increase awareness and appreciation for everyone at Ashby Ponds. We are pleased with Erickson Living’s continued focus on growing diversity at all levels of the organization.”