New people, new places and new cultures can feel daunting if introduced all at once. College students leave their homes, move to a new place and are then surrounded by a sea of people they have never met before.
Many of these people might look, speak, act and worship differently than you.
Students come to a university understanding they will be exposed to people and cultures much different from their own.
BYU-Idaho students do not differ in this regard.
“Having grown up in an area of the world that was not at all diverse, I never fully realized the struggles many people of different ethnicities and cultures faced,” said Kaitlyn Davis, a junior studying communication. “When I moved away from home and lived with people ethnically different than me, I realized that one of the best ways to show love is to truly listen and learn from everyone‘s unique perspective.”
According to College Factual, roughly 45% of the student body at BYU-I ethnically identifies as something other than caucasian.
This percentage of ethnically diverse students creates a culture on campus of inclusivity and respect for the differences that make us who we are.
Baden Hanchett, a sophomore studying software engineering, shared an apartment with students from Columbia, South Africa and the Philippines, and has many friends from Mexico here at BYU-I. Hanchett shared his experience and what he has learned from it.
“I feel that rooming with them allowed me to become more ethnically aware and accepting,” Hanchett said. “I learned more about their cultures, and I was excited when they would share with me.”
Hanchett also shared a tip for those working on becoming more conscious of those different from themselves.
“I feel that college students could be more accepting and open with people of different ethnic backgrounds simply by asking and learning,” Hanchett said. “I also strongly encourage students to become roommates and friends with people of different cultures. It’s another way to learn and grow.”
College is an opportunity to leave home, learn new things and develop into the person you are meant to be. It is unlikely that you can truly figure out who you are without being exposed to the rest of the world first.
College is a great way to begin this exposure.
Allison Kao, a junior majoring in international studies, lived in an apartment with people of many different ethnicities. This helped her to stay culturally open–minded.
“Living with them really taught me the importance of keeping my eyes open and being aware of other cultures around me,” Kao said. “It made me more curious about the world and what lies outside of my own cultural bubble.”
Kao shares that with racial injustice happening all over the world, loving each other and coming together is what’s important.
“We live in a time where the color of our skin equates to the entire picture of who we are,” Kao said. “There is a wall created when we only associate others with the color of their skin.”
At a time in history that is seemingly so divisive and partisan, BYU-I students have held tight to the belief that love can bring us all together.
“As I listened and learned, I became more understanding, accepting and inclusive,” Davis said.
Learning acceptance and love in college seems to be a trend here in Rexburg.