Art by Caitlin Roark
Despite the rhetoric of the recent administration promoting an isolationist and even xenophobic agenda, the country is still growing increasingly more diverse. Some Americans may feel quite overwhelmed trying to connect with the array of cultures. In these instances, it is important to back away from intimidation and instead embrace avenues of heightened cultural awareness.
Pepperdine University models the progress of the country, becoming a campus that grows more diverse with every new academic year. The Fall 2018 admission and enrollment data reveals that more than half of enrolled students are of an ethnicity other than White. This is an impressive number, especially when considering that nearly 75 percent of those enrolled are domestic students. Students should feel emboldened by these statistics and embrace opportunities of cultural engagement.
Luckily for Pepperdine students, there are many incredible opportunities that provide students with authentic cultural experiences. Student groups such as Rotaract International host bi-weekly events that bring students together in celebration for a particular culture. Those in attendance get to taste traditional food, listen to music and even watch dances that all define that week’s culture.
International Programs undoubtedly play a huge role in encouraging global and cultural awareness at Pepperdine. Events such as GlobalFest, which was put on during Global Learning Week, provide yet another avenue from which students can directly interact with other cultures and in turn expand their cultural literacy. Through all these events, there is a common denominator that makes it all happen: student input.
Students should not only be willing to attend events that provide unique information on various cultures, but they should also make an effort to be cultural educators of their own. Everyone belongs to different cultures and with that have a vast background of history to share.
The survival of culture in the modern world relies heavily on the ability, desire and willpower of those belonging to that particular heritage. Events such as GlobalFest would not be possible were it not for the enthusiasm of students belonging to certain cultural backgrounds to teach their peers about their background.
Peeling back the political turmoil that plagues the division, it becomes clear that an underlying fear of the unknown is fueling conflicts. From the unreasonable demand for a border wall to an increasingly more isolationist foreign policy, the U.S. seems to be driving itself further away from cultural awareness. Cultural understanding might be the key to shining a light on the root causes of these divisive issues.
We must be willing to take risks, explore other cultures, ask questions and openly share our knowledge with others. Pepperdine students, as well as many college students across the country, have a unique opportunity to have direct interactions with students and staff from all around the world. Using this advantage to expand one’s comprehension of culture will give students an edge in their future careers. In a world that is growing ever more connected, relatability with people of various backgrounds will allow for more pleasant and successful interactions, in terms of social and business aspects.
Pepperdine students should feel motivated to host events that celebrate their culture, promote events that celebrate others and most importantly continue allowing for our campus to be open for this freedom of expression.
Intimidation is natural when approaching any situation that one is unfamiliar with, however, instead of embracing the hesitation that develops, students should approach with curiosity. Many are proud and excited to share their culture with others and their willingness to teach should be met with a willingness to learn.
Follow the Pepperdine Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic