What It's Like Coming From a Diverse Background | St. Lawrence University

What It's Like Coming From a Diverse Background

Friday, October 23, 2020

My family is very important to me and has taught me so many valuable things. My family has shaped who I am, my beliefs, my opinions, and my experiences.

I do not live in a diverse town, but diversity is very apparent among my family members. My grandmother is 100% Asian and my grandfather is 50% Argentine and Italian. They are both trilingual in English, Spanish, and Chinese. My father is 50% Cuban and Irish and is bilingual in English and Spanish. My mother is trilingual is Spanish, English and Chinese. 

My mother lived abroad throughout her childhood due to my grandfather’s job so she constantly moved around. She has lived in some of the majors cities in China, Argentina, and Mexico. City life was something she became very used to and she grew familiar with the idea of being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

At 10 years old she was going to school in China and was one of the very few “foreigners.” Her and my uncle both became very independent children and very self-reliant because of how they were constantly moving, entering new schools, etc. My mother’s and grandparents' experiences provide me a lot of guidance and skills to use in my everyday life.

My mother is able to adapt to various environments because she constantly moved around. She gained a strong grasp on the ability to empathize and have a broader perspective on the world. My father lived most of his life in Miami, Florida and also got to live in Venezuela for four years. Even though he lived mainly in the United States, he was also immersed in the Latin culture. 

American culture is very focused on individuality and how it can benefit you, as opposed to eastern Asian and Hispanic cultures, which are very focused on community, family, and doing things for the greater good. This has taught me it is important to put others first. I've also learned to appreciate the benefits of constantly being surrounded by different languages. During our family dinners, the conversation constantly flows between English and Spanish. I am also able to practice my Spanish with my family and am able to contribute to conversations. 

As I get older, I realize that my family's norms, practices, and overall culture has taught me so many things. I have learned to see the world through different perspectives and lenses. I have also learned that I have a strong understanding of empathy, sympathy, and how to connect with various groups of people.

I truly appreciate everything my family has taught me and constantly being surrounded by various cultures. I have also learned how to adapt to any situation I am in. I have grown up with Latin greetings with hugs and kisses, but I learned at a young age that greetings are different for everyone and every culture. I am able to apply these skills to different social and academic situations when understanding how to adapt to my surroundings.

The most important piece is how my background has helped me here at St. Lawrence. Coming in as a first-year, I had to adjust to a completely new life and be on my own. As many first-years experience, we re-build our lives a bit. Adapting to a completely new environment and life at college is a terrifying step in our lives.

Adaptability was crucial in coming to St. Lawrence. This trait has helped me create a family and community here that I will cherish forever. I have found friends that I will continue to be close with for my entire life, new career interests, alumni who will help me get to where I want to be, and memories that will stay with me past St. Lawrence.

My family taught me the importance of being comfortable with getting uncomfortable. My mother's ability to adapt to new schools and environments after moving so many times is a lesson I applied when I studied abroad in Kenya. Students on the Kenya Semester Program (KSP) are put into many different and new situations and have to earn how to be out of their comfort zones. This not only helped me during the KSP but now has become a vital skill that will continue to help me grow. 

Diversity is such a broad topic and can be interpreted in various ways. My family’s diversity has made me who I am today and has made me into a stronger person as a whole. I am forever grateful and fortunate to have a faily that shares their experiences with me so I can implement what they have learned into my life.