The Collegiate Life: Diversity Changed Me as a Student and a Person
Growing up, I only surrounded myself with Koreans because I was more comfortable around them. But as I got older, I realized that I needed to get out of my comfort zone if I wanted to be successful and more open-minded as a person, student and career woman. When I moved from Queens, New York to Jericho in Long Island, transitioning from sixth grade to seventh grade, my demographics changed, culture-wise. All of a sudden, I wasn’t surrounded by Korean or Chinese peers anymore, but I was surrounded by Hispanics, Caucasians, Indians and every single ethnicity you can think of, excluding Koreans and Chinese.
Journalism is not an Asian dominating field of study or career. When I entered my first class of journalism, I didn’t spot a single Asian person in the room. It was a bit awkward at first but slowly, because I had been exposed to interacting with people from a variety of cultures before, I was able to adjust fairly quickly and was able to get along with my colleagues. Ever since, a lot of the colleagues I have gotten close with, have been anything but Asian. It was a lot of fun and looking back, I don’t regret not making the choice to stay within my comfort zone and to meet people solely based on my ethnicity. Having a diverse group of colleagues and a very small diverse group of friends, has opened my heart, my eyes and my mind. It has helped me to understand the different cultures and has helped me to embrace not only the Asian culture but also every culture outside of it.
Diversity can impact you in so many different ways and it doesn’t just have to be through people. It makes your life more exciting and interesting because you’re always learning something new about the ethnicities and cultures of your colleagues and/or friends. In my own life, I am obsessed with diversity when it comes to people, food, activities and sports. Although I am a Korean-American and love Korean food, I love eating burgers, Italian, Spanish and Greek food. Of course, there are others…the list can go on and on. I chose to participate in sports that weren’t normally Asian dominated such as lacrosse, track and cheerleading. Even as a Christian, my love for diversity led me to join, not the Korean Christian Club but the Intervarsity Christian Club, which consists of Christians with different backgrounds and ethnicities. Diversity applies to dating too. In middle school and high school, I told my family and everyone that I wasn’t going to date any guy who wasn’t Korean but through experiences and involvement, my heart changed.
Although I may be picky at times, diversity is something that I will forever embrace and keep in my life. There are many factors that play into making me who I am today…diversity is a huge part of it. My love for diversity is the reason I have the diverse group of colleagues and the small diverse group of friends that I have. That’s the reason why I’m more open-hearted, understanding and embracing when it comes to other people and their own culture.
College is the perfect way to diversify your life because there are different people from all over the world and once you just try and make the effort to give them a chance, you’ll come to learn, understand and embrace others and their cultures like I have and still do. Plus, it’ll only help you in the long run when it comes to building your interpersonal skills with different people, and it’ll help in building your career.
You only live life once, so make the best of it by diversifying it! It’s not tedious…it’s exciting and you’ll have so much fun doing it!
Column by Sarah Yu, contributing College editor.