Students are taught how to be students in a multitude of ways as well, and bringing in personal preferences and ideals, there seems to be as many different styles of learning and studying as there are faces sitting in front of me. For a novice instructor, learning how to deal with individualism on so many levels can be daunting, yet managing such variations in previous education, work experience, cultural norms, and course expectations is not only manageable, but actually works to create even more cohesive and understanding classrooms than in those where there is much more homogeneity.
As these students are coming to Canada to become nurses, in the very first class we discuss what it means to be a Canadian. Racial diversity in the Vancouver area is apparent, and students quickly realize that there are vastly more immigrants here in Vancouver than there are "Canadians". For them to become successful in their careers here, the more they know about as many cultures as they can, therefore becoming better nurses and advocates for their future patients, the more successful they will be. Getting to better 'hear' another culture's words, and understanding what makes patients culturally comfortable or perhaps things that might be taboo, will result in them providing better nursing care.
I don't want to make it seem that this process of getting students to understand their peers is easy, because it can be a challenge. I do believe that by staying focused on the outcomes of the class and the importance of working together with respect and harmony just as they will need to in the workplace, and opening their minds to new ways of doing things, goes a long way in slowly but gently using suasion through understanding to broaden their cultural-norm horizons.
As Brookfield (2015) mentions on page 102 of The Skillful Teacher, if there are a number of multiracial / multicultural instructors (and, I will include staff overall) with their own talents and personalities and cultural awareness, this diversity in the workplace lends to a greater chance of teaching diverse classrooms successfully as we practice what we preach. My college is quite small, but 13 out of 14 staff members were either born and raised in non-English countries or spent a number of years living abroad, resulting in as much diversity within our staff as we do within our student population. We demonstrate to students on a daily basis how to live and work successfully with diversity, and with a little guidance and a lot of work and acceptance, they can too!
Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom (3rd ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.