Sabur Woldu

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.