By Emilie McQueen, Staff Writer
Published in print Oct.1, 2014
What exactly is the “American Dream” that so many wish to obtain? It seems as though there is an illusion of the land of the free that is portrayed to those outside of its’ boundaries.
As UNCG is known for being very diverse in its population of not only various races, but also many students from around world, it’s interesting to acknowledge that some people walk around quite confused on subjects regarding our history, lifestyle, and overall racial dynamics.
The International Students Association and Housing and Residence Life joined with Social Justice and Diversity Initiatives Committee along with the Office of Multicultural Affairs to put together a discussion between international and American students to see how different life here is from the picture perfect place the movies have made it out to be.
Various international students confessed their feelings on race, religion, and the differences in America as a whole in comparison to their country throughout this community dialogue and even though many random opinions were expressed, it seemed that an underlying theme was found in all.
“I didn’t know how to fit in as an African American in America.”
Whether we accept it or not, there are certain stereotypes we all adhere to and accept on a day to day basis. Students who have come from other countries, whether they are White, Asian, Hispanic, or African American, have all felt the pressure to fit into their specified “group” or act a certain way.
Also, many students have experienced an increased amount of judgment in America in comparison to their home countries.
Most students admitted to changing the way they dressed or acted once coming to America.
“I felt as though I suddenly had to say ‘hey I’m black, what’s up,” said one student.
Beyond the language barriers and confusion with the American slang, international students also see that there is a huge difference in religion in America.
“In Russia, there is inevitably free religion, there’s no specified day to practice what you believe,” said one student participant. “Anyone can visit a mosque on any day of the week.”
Religion has been noted as an extremely sensitive subject, and even constricted to some from other countries. Especially in an educational setting, the topic of religion is almost always off limits.
“Coming to America, I thought everyone liked one another and unfortunately that’s just not true,” said the student from Russia.
We eat differently, we interact differently, and our politics are crazy, but does America not offer a brighter future for most?
“Many people in Honduras live and work each day just to make enough money and survive for hopes of coming to America one day.” As Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, it would be an obvious answer that America is a much better place to live; however, it was expressed by several people that this country is more accepting of people than the U.S. is. “My birth certificate has no statement of my race or a place for where it should be filled out, because it doesn’t matter here. It’s not an issue of concern.”
This discussion was an effective step to breaking the barrier of the negative view of racial dynamics some see evident on campus, and bringing a diverse collection of people together to talk about an issue. “In my opinion, there is only one race, the human race, and that is how the whole world should see racial dynamics.”