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I am an Asian, upper middle class, suburban kid, and I am not really that diverse if one simply looks at skin color, race, ethnicity, place of origin, or religion. But diversity is more than simple geography or socioeconomic status, especially in a school of higher learning like Rutgers.
I’ve always had a rather sheltered upbringing, being the child of the suburbs, after all. I’ve only been able to experience my protective shell of homogeny. College has always represented the idea of “new things” to me, and I would like to experience all kinds of new people and new cultures.
Oftentimes, it seems that people from America find other cultures filled with ridiculous, quaint, obsolete superstitions. Other times, Americans seem to see other cultures as mysterious, magical scions of tradition and esoteric knowledge. It is no coincidence that American tourists are often frowned upon and disliked, and that America itself is not a particularly popular country.
I do not want to look at others as pop culture-inspired pastiches of their roots, but I do think that there are many things I can learn from them. Chinese culture, for example, taught me to respect my elders, while American culture taught me to not view gift-giving as a moral exercise and that accepting gifts may not represent greediness. Similarly, people from other places may teach me certain things. I wish to learn as much as I can from as many people as I can.
One’s mind is the real determinant in one’s place in a college. More important than tradition and culture is one’s ability to grasp information and fit in with others. A college is more for learning than for anything else. My most defining characteristic is my passion for learning. I honestly care much more about knowledge than about grades; I will often research for hours on end if I find a subject interesting.
And while perhaps this insatiable appetite for intellectual stimulation is pedantic at best and counterproductive at worst, this sort of view seems to be unique. I must not be the only one thinking like this, of course. But the world seems to be filled with people who care more about achievement than the learning, who care more about the end than the process, who are too ambitious to note the importance of knowledge.
People who truly wish to learn for learning’s sake are rare within a college community; professors may love to learn, but often there are many students who put a greater emphasis on tangible realizations of their work. A truly diverse student body would have both those hungry for achievement and those hungry for knowledge.
And Rutgers would be just perfect for that.
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