Friday, December 11, 2009

Diversity Matters!

I'm a huge fan of diversity. Until this picture of a birthday party I attended when I was younger resurfaced, I had almost forgotten about my childhood. I forgot about how when you are a little kid, you like anyone who is nice or who shares or who plays with you. Color, background, financial status, and everything else in between doesn't even cross your mind. At what point in our lives do the stereotypes begin to creep into our mind and prevent us from potentially meeting someone who could be fabulously wonderful because we deemed they weren't rich enough based on the ripped jeans or that they weren't open-minded enough because they were wearing pink J-Crew pants with the ugly whales imprinted on them?
I've always kind of prided myself on the fact that I tend to have a pretty open mind, and also tend to be accepting of people no matter what their background may be. When it really comes down to it though, I am still fall victim to making preconceived notions about a person based on their appearance - albeit not often. However, in those few times, I feel like in some part I have failed the people I grew up with or my parents, who both shared a true and deep passion to teach their children the principles of equality - and really giving everyone an equal chance. I'm not saying that I don't treat people equally, but I am saying that I definitely could have prevented myself from meeting some pretty cool people in college because I made some assumptions based on their preppy clothes.
It is good to look into the world from the lens you looked through as child to gain back that perspective and realize sometimes adults need to go back to the basics and stop worrying about the mundane.
All in all, this resurfaced picture makes me appreciate Unity Point School for the diversity and open mindedness it offered to its students. It makes me appreciate Carbondale, the college town and home of the Southern Illinois Salukis, for the international student body it attracted. In high school, all I wanted was to get out of that town and did not see the beauty in everything it had to offer. While I still do not want to move back, I can still look back on it's redeeming qualities and smile to myself - knowing that it played a huge role in who I have become today.


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