Embrace what you don’t know

By Molly Zupan, Special Sections Editor

Many of the columns written for this guide are directed at international students. But this one is not.

This column is specifically for the students, professors and administrators who are from the U.S. So listen up locals.

According to the University’s Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations, 23.18 percent of the student population in fall 2017 were international students.

The University repeatedly voices and clarifies its unified dedication to welcoming those from abroad, which I wholeheartedly appreciate and support. But actions speak louder than words.

So far, my experiences at the University have been exceptional and fulfilling, but I often wonder if other students feel the same; more specifically, I wonder if international students do.

I can’t imagine living and studying abroad for four years at this age. Without my family and friends close by, I would feel very alone and I would probably lose my keys, wallet and mind.

One of our University’s most notable characteristics, which is frequently highlighted in brochures, websites and emails, is its vastly diverse student population. So I hope we’re doing all we can to ensure these students feel welcome and safe.

In my opinion, it is absolutely necessary for us to give a warm welcome to everyone from abroad, especially due to the current political climate, which poses many threats to families of particular backgrounds and ethnicities.

As students of a University that prides itself on its diverse student body, I feel strongly that we should show and treat every individual on campus, and beyond, with respect, care and kindness.

We are lucky enough to attend a University that offers so much aside from specific courses and subject matters. There are thousands of students on this campus; why not embrace and indulge in every single one of them?

Now don’t get me wrong, it is very unlikely to befriend every single student, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t try.

Since I’ve been on campus, I’ve introduced myself to hundreds of people. I have not made that same number of friends, but I have genuine comfort knowing that I’m always willing to make another, with an open mind and heart.

In my opinion, it is much easier to be kind and courteous than it is to be mean and distant. Humans are social beings; that inner need to befriend, connect and care for should be carried out limitlessly.

Despite location and familiarity, I chose this University because of its rich student population. I grew up in a small suburban town near Chicago and my interaction with certain people was limited; but here, I am surrounded by so many different backgrounds and cultures and that honestly feels so good.

If you attend this University and have any ounce of hatred or disdain towards any specific ethnicity, gender or culture, shame on you.

It is truly a privilege to attend such a valued and honorable University and it is an even greater privilege to be amongst a group of individuals that is abundant in differences and rich in culture.

To the student body that is accustomed to this American environment, I hope you take extra steps to make others around you feel comfortable and welcome to our campus and to this country.

These extra steps to do so can be simple; introduce yourself, offer a helping hand or take the time to learn about someone else. These steps can also be a little more complex; take or teach a course about a specific minority group or culture or visit a dedicated house on Nevada Street.

As a University student or administrator, you are a part of something big and you can be a part of something even bigger if you embrace those around you and take advantage of the resources that are available to you.

Don’t limit yourself, your experiences or your knowledge. Channel your inner human being, be kind and open and let others in.

Molly is a junior in FAA.

[email protected]