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C.O.W.’s diversity sparks intellectual curiosity

In the last two years, The College of Wooster’s international enrollment has increased. The College’s community has grown from this in a myriad of ways: in the unique experiences and stories the College’s students have to tell, in the global perspective we give each other. We grow through the exposure our different communities and individuals on campus bring to the larger community here.

The interactions of international and domestic students on campus bring value to us in many significant ways: our friendships help eliminate the ignorance about our different cultures. We bring this same value to our classes, to our dorms, and to our relationships, and everyone is better because of it. I know embarrassingly little about Ohio, and few people can point Zimbabwe out on a map. When people ask me about my culture because they want to understand who I am, and they are sincere, then I feel happy to talk about my home.

I was admittedly ignorant of the world beyond my Facebook newsfeed and my computer screen before I came here. I am still largely ignorant of what the greater part of the world looks like. Being a college student is hard. I cannot yet afford to travel across the globe and see all the cultures of the world. The College’s diversity does this for every one of us. It is our world fair, and it brings together the best of us from our different cities and nations. I am much less ignorant of what it means to have a global identity having met all of you, and that is good. Our lives, my college experience — the culmination of my four years at the College is a constant, unrelenting struggle against ignorance and apathy.

What makes 54 countries represented amongst over 2,000 students better than one or two or five? In 2017, there are people who still ask this question. That is fine. Intellectual, ethnic, racial diversity and diversity in all of its other forms make our communities richer. Tolerance and a willingness to talk and learn across our differences is what gives that diversity meaning. I implore everyone who wonders why we take such pride in our diversity to look at our community and its richness. How we talk to each other. How we treat each other. Our compassion. Our intelligence and empathetic ability. You cannot empathize with something you do not know. You cannot know something you have never interacted with. In a world obsessed with itself, Narcissus trapped in his own reflection, we have our eyes on each other, on our worrying present and a hopeful future.

The best conversations I have had were here — conversations about my future, and what it all means. Do I want to build a better future, and what will such a future look like? For my family and I in Zimbabwe, it is a future in which everyone matters, and each person’s value is not something arguable. The dynamics of our interactions, our sense of otherness from communities outside of what we feel is familiar to us changes each time we reach outside of familiarity. Intelligence is curiosity, and it is only meaningful when it makes our lives and view of the world better.

Tanaka Chingonzo, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at CChingonzo21@wooster.edu.

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