The following might come off as a little ignorant, but I want to be honest.
Like many high schoolers, I was naïve and seemingly always spent my time with people like myself: middle class, similar age, similar beliefs. As a result, I didn’t realize all the different ways you can look at things.
Colleges naturally pull together people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. However, I didn’t realize how true this was for community colleges, where “non-traditional” students are the norm. Interacting with these people—with their different ages, religions, and cultures—has been my most valuable college experience yet.
Perspectives From A Different Age
One of the best conversations I’ve ever had was with a fellow nursing student. She was in her mid-to-late thirties, and we were working on a project together.
Eventually, she started talking about a fight she was having with her 16-year-old daughter. Being 18 at the time, I shared my perspective: her stance was a little unreasonable, and I’d feel the same way as her daughter. Then, she told me her perspective—and it put everything in a different light.
I told her to talk with her daughter the same way she talked with me. Then, she would probably be a little more understanding. In the end, they talked about it together and really understood each other’s side. They found a compromise and were closer because of it.
This situation made me think about times I butt heads with people, specifically my mother. Now, I stop and think about their perspective before getting frustrated or angry. (If only she would do the same!)
Perspective From A Different Religion
In high school, I was exposed to many different religions. However, I only knew the surface of the religion—not their traditions, beliefs, stories, holidays, and so on. In community college, I really got to know and understand the different religions that make up our diverse country.
For example, in one literature class, an older man who was Muslim spoke about the different ways that the readings could be interpreted through his religion. What he said was greatly inspiring and eye opening. I could look at literature in so many different ways, as well as learn about other religions.
It made me realize that, though we may have different beliefs, we don’t have to dismiss each other for them. Instead, we should teach and listen to each other. You never know what you might learn.
Perspective From A Different Culture
At my community college, I met many international students who shared some of the most interesting practices of their cultures. In my sociology class, one student came from Africa. She compared the structures and traditions of its many tribes with our American society. Some, like where women were the heads of the villages and formed close bonds with each other, sounded like places I’d like to live. Others, like tribes with ritualistic mutilation, did not.
I also found out more about America as a culture itself. Even today, I’m still learning about all of the amazing demographics that make up the melting pot that is America. There is truly a lot to learn from each individual person. You just have to be willing to talk and listen.
I will never forget all of the things that I have learned from each person’s perspective. I think my experience of listening to people and learning about them has made me a better and more well-rounded person. And I don’t think I would be the same person I am today if I hadn’t gone to community college first.
Have you learned a life lesson from your college classmates? Share it in the comments.