I love being surrounded by so many others from so many different backgrounds. That’s one of my favourite things about studying at a large institution in the West.
In addition, everyone has so many different aspects to their identities. You can’t categorize people as “jocks” or “nerds” anymore, like Troy Bolton from High School Musical once taught us. People are not simply “that design chick” or “that Portuguese guy”; they are so much more, and how fun is it discovering that?!
I’ve enjoyed the conversations at Pride Week UAlberta, the dancing at LASA (Latin American Students’ Association) nights, the food at Indian Students’ Association parties, the passion at mental/physical health awareness programming… I could go on, and if you’ve read my previous posts, you know how much I love listing things. My point is: culture is not just ethnic. There is a culture for every aspect of your identity. And there is something to appreciate about each of them!
You can’t categorize people as “jocks” or “nerds” anymore.
Many times we surround ourselves with people that are like us. We spend most of our time with people from our own country, our own faculty, or our old high school, or with people with similar moral views. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it does narrow our perspective. There is something to appreciate about every culture; there is something to learn from each of them. You’ll remain ignorant about how other people live their lives and this creates misconceptions, stereotypes and lack of empathy. Being surrounded by men doesn’t make one especially sensitive to women’s issues. If you’ve never spent time with a fraternity, seen what they do and how they do it, how do you know that they’re *insert negative stereotype*? Likewise, it’s very easy to say Business students are minions of the capitalist regime when you’ve never actually made the effort to understand their points of view.
I understand that we like to remain in our comfort zone. It’s easy shooting paintballs from behind a wall. It’s also easier to shoot paintballs from behind the same wall, the entire time, every single time you play. But you’re not going to hit very many people if you don’t throw yourself out there, and what’s the point of paintball if everyone doesn’t leave bruised? If we live our lives like strangely cautious players, you won’t learn much, and neither will you teach (Look at me spitting wisdom LMAO!).
Many times we surround ourselves with people that are like us. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it does narrow our perspective.
That’s why I love when I’m asked questions about my culture(s) — not just ethnically, but also about my program, or my work with mental health. If you’re ignorant about something, the best way to learn is to ask questions. Then again, please be mindful that sometimes ignorance can be offensive and it’s best to ask as respectfully as you can! (Ok, that’s all the moral policing I’m doing today). The least we can do for others curious about our cultures is to teach! So, the next time you hear “What’s Arts like? Must be so easy haha,” let’s try being honest and educate, because God only knows how many times I’ve heard that.
Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and viewpoints of current Arts students. Through their posts, you’ll experience the creativity and passion of our students as they present glimpses into student life. The views and opinions expressed within these posts are solely those of the authors.
Banner photo: Radha’s volunteer team from WOW (UAlberta’s Week of Welcome)