By Kristina Smith
I am prideful of
my diversity filled life. My closest friends come from backgrounds that are
vastly different from mine. They include other blacks, white people and Asians.
We each are from different socio-economic classes, various religious faiths, we
have conflicting political views and opposite sexual orientations. I love these
people as if we were blood relatives. My circle of friends at Ehwa is similar. I
always tend to seek out groups of diverse people and have found myself more
comfortable in diverse settings.
Prior to leaving
America for my temporary Korean home at Ewha I
received an award in the name of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I was
nominated and recognized for embodying the ideals of racial acceptance and
equality that this great man lived by. I was commended for appreciating the
diversity of the world.
With all that
being said this is the first time that I have actually traveled outside of the
States and lived in a non-western society. I thought I was
cultured enough to handle the situation. Lately, I have questioned how accepting
I really am of others.
I have been
asking myself if the diversity that I experienced in the past been superficial
experiences of acceptance? Is living in a different society that I can’t leave
at the end of the day and go back to my comfort zone the true
and annoyance range from minor infractions to big picture issues. I complain
over and over how people don’t wait their turn in line, and don’t say excuse me.
I complain about people who stare and point at foreigners and the people who
yell random English phrases at me.
Part of my
annoyance is the stories I have heard firsthand about women being forced to
marry and the pressure on unwed women. I watch everyday as Ewha women almost
kill themselves walking the campus in high-heels or working out in the gym for
hours to achieve an “ideal look”.
I think it is
important for me to have an opinion on such things but my opinion is beginning
to turn into resentment which could lead to hatred and that is not safe. I see
myself wishing Korea was a liberal land like
America but that would go against everything I
thought I believed.
I thought I believed that we can all live in harmony and
respect each others difference without conforming to one another. I also thought
I believed that I would be comfortable living in a homogenous society because I
truly like the consistency it offers. Maybe I am a novice and my acceptance will
develop over time. I only have eight weeks left to figure it all out. I am going
to challenge myself to truly find the acceptance I have for my diverse American
friends. I know its in me somewhere.