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?

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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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