October 6, 2012

What is Diversity? - A Book Review

In my opinion, few social science subjects fall well into scholarly research. One such topic is diversity. Sure, many scholars and academics have written on this topic. Such pieces are wrought with citations and fieldwork research, and maybe sprinklings of personal experience. This observer’s viewpoint can be helpful, but the real meat and potatoes of diversity is when it is felt, experienced, and shared by someone who is a living the example of diversity.

Of course, we are all living examples of diversity. We are all our own ‘work of art’ as Haikaa Yamamoto so eloquently shares in her book What is Diversity?  

Haikaa, a living, breathing inspiration to us all believes in diversity and understands that each individual has a uniqueness, each culture has a specialty that is all its own and that must be preserved. But, it goes further than preservation. It must be celebrated and shared. Cultures can grow and flourish only through sharing and expanding our knowledge, not hiding or hoarding it. As we continue to converge through global lifestyles, living in various countries and experiencing various cultures, the best path to harmony is through sharing and understanding.

Haikaa is such an inspiration. She describes her viewpoints on diversity in relation to a variety of subjects and then weaves her opinions into her ’Work of Art‘ global project. In her project, she brings together twenty languages into one song with the theme of acceptance, diversity, sharing, understanding, and honoring the unique individuals that we all are. In the second part of the book, Haikaa shares about how she worked with lyricists and voice and accent coaches in twenty languages to write and sing the song.



Attempting to retell any of the stories behind the twenty translations would be a disservice to you. Absorbing the experience and understanding the process is best done through reading the book and then watching the video. Whenever I watch her video ‘Work of Art to Celebrate a Diverse World’ on YouTube, tears fill my eyes because I see her passion and true belief in diversity. She has not chosen ‘diversity’ as PhD topic to publish a thesis and get a degree. She has not chosen the topic of ‘diversity’ to publish works and intellectualize the topic. But, the topic ‘diversity’
has chosen her as a spokeswoman; she lives it and feels it from the depths of her heart. She is a true inspiration to us all.

Haikaa Yamamoto, the woman who hikes and conquers the summits and mountains of life, I am humbled and inspired by you. Read Haikaa's article: Embracing Cross-Cultural Identity, A Work of Art.

Haikaa Yamamoto’s book, What is Diversity? is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

This review was written by Jennifer Kumar and edited by Chris Sufi. It first appeared in the Toronto, Canada based newspaper, Asian Connections in July 2012.




Read other book reviews on for expats and cross-cultural topics by clicking here.

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