Oftentimes, people are shocked to find out I, a small-town South Dakotan, am the vice president of the International Club. Although I surround myself with diversity and always try to go out of my comfort zone to talk to new people from all over the world, I wasn’t always so open-minded.
My personal journey with diversity started when I came to USD. Growing up I didn’t think much about what it meant to be diverse and open, there wasn’t much to challenge the worldviews I had. When I came to college, I was shocked to see the abundance of different cultures and people from different backgrounds. For the first time in my life, I experienced the beauty of meeting people that are different from me.
As a freshman, I got the opportunity to go to the Multicultural Leadership Institute. While at this event, I was introduced to several international students, some who even became my roommates and best friends. At this event we were able to ask uncomfortable questions in a judgment free area and get honest answers. We also were able to have fun and be regular people together despite our differences. After getting back from the event, I felt encouraged to continue my journey with diversity and to meet more people.
Soon after the event, I met my close friend group which is filled with people from all around the world. We had so much fun together and have continued to have fun for the last four years. I’d like to think our diversity is what makes our friendship so interesting and we never run out of things to talk about.
After meeting my close friends, I felt encouraged to show other students like me the beauty of being open-minded and embracing those who are different from you. I joined several cultural clubs and could always be found volunteering and promoting events. To this day, I can attribute these clubs to a lot of my achievements academically and socially. The connections I have made through the international community are priceless and they will last me a lifetime.
Diversity isn’t just a choice, it is a lifestyle. I would encourage any student at USD to branch out and go to a cultural event even if it is out of their comfort zone.