Diversity. That is the single biggest defining factor that I can say about my school. In the space of 10 feet you’ll see a pastel, monogram toting sorority girl, an afro sporting skater, a fashionista, a nice-looking fellow rocking a gaming T-shirt, and a host of all others. It’s basically every stereotype that exists in teen movies multiplied by 100. I have noticed a significant difference from those movies though. Typically, in such a movie (and in high school I presume) everyone stays in one clique. They fit into one tiny little box. College has opened up so many wide and varied opportunities for me. While I have never felt like I fit into a stereotype (I affectionately call myself a “jack of all trades,” or “all cliques,” as it stands) I have also never felt accepted as someone who was different.
I don’t doubt that the vast majority of people feel the same way. It’s hard when there are expectations and stereotypes placed upon you. No one is just one thing, not even when culture tries to shove him or her into that box. The single most encouraging and wonderful part of college is the melding of differences. In one class I sit next to a senior who despises the academic process and the next a female gamer and a silent hipster. I have classes with stylish film majors, a precise and sweet economics major who loves discovering how the world works, a goofy mathematician who’s really trying to start a beard, and about a million future nurses of varying sizes, ethnicities and cultures. I get to discuss language and dance and everything in-between with these people. For the most part, we have nothing in common. Not our looks, our backgrounds, our majors, or our ideas. But there’s a respect here that I’ve never experienced elsewhere.
Maybe this respect stems from how wonderful they are; maybe it comes from some “air” of self-respect I put off (though I’m doubting that…). Either way, I am respected for my opinions and beliefs, just as I respect them. I am not made fun of because of my age or my personal style. My ideas are not stupid. I am intelligent and deserve to be heard. These are the things my classmates’ actions tell me about myself. It’s absolutely wonderful.
And today I want to celebrate the diversity of universities. Let’s celebrate the things that draw us close and forget the lines that divide. Let’s celebrate the beauty that is the human experience.