This VP was not sponsored by the College’s marketing team.
While I always looked at any graduation event as a celebration of getting a degree, May 16 for me will be just as much about celebrating the community that I was fortunate to be a part of, and everything I have gotten to learn from my interactions with people I have met here.
For many of us, the campus community will be the most diverse place that we will ever get to live in. We have people from all across the world, with all sorts of backgrounds and experiences living in this small space. Being here for four years is the one chance we have to try to understand all these experiences that are different from ours.
We have chances to learn about why people have the values and beliefs that they do. We have chances to understand different cultures and identities. We have chances to realize how stereotypes limit us from knowing somebody else. We have chances to understand, empathize, and learn every day.
And I know we have been taking those chances. We’re learning every time we meet someone who knows a language that we don’t and ask them to teach us a few words. We’re learning when we make mistakes in assuming people’s identities and make sure we get them right next time. We’re learning when we see people we care about struggle because of injustice and when we try to understand just how systems work.
While we always want to welcome this growth, I also understand that learning every day can be tiring. It’s easy to fall back into groups and cultures that make us feel comfortable and we can understand each other without trying too hard. It’s nice to be around those who always agree with us. And that’s okay. All of us are away from home, so we need the comfort of familiarity. The important part is to not get so comfortable that we leave campus without appreciating our differences. Because our community is a snippet of the world, and I’m sure we agree that the world needs more acceptance. So when we leave this place, I hope we leave to create our own spaces where there is a place for everybody who does not intend any harm.
I know for sure that I will be looking at my camera roll from August 2018 to July 2022 more than I will look at my degree. And I will turn to all the narratives that I had a chance to be a part of in buildings, offices, hammocks and hiking trails every time I need hope for a better world.