Sabur Woldu
Contributor

Embracing cultural competence on campus

When you’re walking around UTD, you see people from all walks of life. A Bengali student to your right, a Korean girl in front of you, an Argentinian person to your left and your Indian BFF right next to you. When you’re in your classrooms, you speak to people with different experiences — one story of a refugee whose family made a tough journey here, another student from Plano who has lived a comfortable life with absolutely no worries and another of a single mom who is going back to school to show her kids that it’s never too late. When you’re introduced to your professors and TAs, you that find that they, too, are from different countries — a Russian professor with an Indian TA from very different worlds who are nonetheless linked by their teachings. There is a certain beauty in that. We don’t realize how lucky we are to be a part of a community that not only welcomes us just the way we are but allows those who are different from us the same peace of mind.

I know it’s difficult to see UTD as the typical college scene, but instead of dwelling on the things we cannot change — such as the party scene or the lack of school spirit — we need to look at how UTD is preparing us for our future in so many more ways than one. UTD’s diversity provides you and me the ability to break bread with our brothers and sisters from across the world and has allowed communities from different corners of the globe to come together and flourish in one place. I myself am immersed in many different communities at UTD, and each one holds a special place in my heart. I’ve met incredible people in all of them, I’ve mingled with people I otherwise wouldn’t have and I’ve seen the beauty of all these communities coming together to make UTD feel like home for me.

My Habesha community, made up of fellow Eritreans and Ethiopians, helps me realize that wherever I go, I’ll always have my fellow countrymen and women by my side, reminding me of the beautiful culture that we have, and how in order for us to preserve that, we need to educate our youth and embed in them what our parents embedded in us. My Greek life community is composed of my Tri Delta sisters and all the men and women of Greek life who I’ve formed lifelong friendships with. UTD was even recognized among one the best values and most diverse campuses in the newly released 2018 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings. We are redefining stereotypes and blazing our own paths while carrying our culture along with us. Without realizing it, UTD is teaching us lifelong lessons about inclusiveness, unity and the beauty of our differences.

The state of our country today is more about hatred than love. The U.S. has seen a rise in hate crimes, most recently with the attack of the synagogue in Pittsburgh. The Anti-Defamation League reported a 60 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents from 2016 to 2017, the biggest single-year increase in reported anti-Jewish hate since it started tracking such data almost 40 years ago. The NAACP has also seen a 12 percent rise in hate crime since 2016. These numbers should scare you and encourage you to be the change. Overlooking our differences and concentrating on our similarities is crucial to the path the U.S. will be taking in the next couple of years. We are more divided than we have ever been and it’s up to us as the generation of tomorrow to start fighting. Love your neighbors, respect their culture and see them for their personality instead of their religion, race or origin. Doing your part can make such a difference and allow us to be the change that we want to see in this country.