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“Dinner is ready!” Every Sunday a member of our family takes a turn choosing what we’re having for dinner, and today was my turn. My mother had prepared all of my favorite food, from foie gras to sea urchin sushi to satay. As we began eating, my mother asked me her favorite question: “What did you get on your tests this week?” I answered proudly, knowing that I studied the materials thoroughly and did well.
My mother then smirked, “Mostly good, but an A- in history? When I got an A-, my father would hit my hands with a ruler.”
“She tried her best, keep it up.” said my Father.
“This is why Indonesia never progresses, everyone lacks rigor. When my grandfather was here during colonization, he said the people were so lazy…” babbled my mother, and the conversation continued. It was the usual back-and-forth discussion caused by their opposing backgrounds, personalities, and values. After we finished dinner and did our Islamic prayers, my mother brought us to her room to thank our Japanese ancestors. My household was like a Chex party mix – a combination of many things.
Growing up in an environment filled with conflicting ideas taught me to be open minded: I am never afraid to try new things, to meet new people, to consider different ideologies, and to take advantage of random opportunities.
Sure, a part of me is similar to the typical teenage girl (I listen to Lady Gaga, and I like to talk about fashion) but another part is much more than that. I never limit myself to anything. For instance, when shopping for a 30 Rock poster, I came across a Miles Davis vinyl. I bought it, and now I listen to his albums everyday. Inspired by the movie New York Gangster, I taught myself how to throw knives, which resulted in a broken door and an angry mother. I also taught myself how to play the flute and create DJ mixes. Over time, I have become so multifaceted that often even my close friends state, “You still manage to surprise me.”
Not only am I open to new things, I am also open to new people. While I am friends with many students from different cliques, I am also very close to faculty and staff throughout the school. I became good friends with Niño, our cafeteria’s cook, and I customized a stir-fry sauce that he then named after me – a sauce that my math teacher was addicted to and, once she met me, thought fit me perfectly.
Sometimes my impartiality gets me in trouble. For example in my Islamic elementary school, I got a week of detention for reading The Da Vinci Code and being curious about “dangerous Christian values.” Situations like this made me realize how lucky I am to have been exposed to different values and to have the courage to let myself learn new things. This tendency did not come out of the blue, but was a result of my upbringing that served diversity on a silver platter to me. Without it, I wouldn’t have the will to read and contemplate the Qur’an and Nietzsche’s opposing thoughts. Without it, I wouldn’t have the thirst to push my boundaries, leave my comfort zone, and enthusiastically embrace the diversity of experiences and people I will encounter in college. Without it, I wouldn’t be me.
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