Insiders vs Outsiders

I was talking with a fellow student affairs professional earlier today & she shared something with me that she had learned a diversity session she had attended last year.  The concept was pretty basic – but amazing.  We are all insiders & outsiders. 

While I might be the ‘expert’ in one group (as an insider), I am very much the outsider in other groups – as someone who doesn’t know everything (or anything) about that particular group. 

Example: I’m an insider when it comes to talking about my current institution’s Graduate Hall director position.  I’m an insider because I know a lot about the position.  (I should, I currently hold the position).
I’m an outsider when it comes to understanding how a PC works.  I’ve never owned a working Windows machine.  I have asked more than twice how to turn one on or off.  (no joke, I’m 100% windows incompetent)

So, getting away from silly examples for a moment.  I think this is key when I work to relate with my students.  I do not identify as Latino, but I work with an awesome population of Latino students.  With these students, they are the insiders & I am an outsider.  However, I can still connect with these students- so long as I acknowledge that I am indeed an outsider (sometimes internally to myself- other times out loud to the students).

Do you identify as an insider and an outsider too? How does this change your approach to student interactions?


One response to “Insiders vs Outsiders

  1. Love this post. As always you are insightful and have much to add to any conversation.

    I often use this concept when it comes to language. I have my “insider” or in group language that is appropiate with friends and family. Those who know and get my sometimes off the wall humor.

    I always need to remember to respect that not everyone is a part of my inside group. My choice of words needs to include all who are there. Inside jokes or references should not be a part of my conversation.

    Thanks again for providing a great post that has my mind humming.

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