So recently in my trips around campus, I came across the news that we are getting a sizable amount of international students for this coming year. On talking to our Dean of Enrollment, Brian, (Actually, I am going to go on a tangent here, but I love the fact that I can just walk unannounced into the offices of anyone while they are around. The small college atmosphere is refreshing after going to schools with systems more rigid then the doors of Fort Knox. Tangent complete.) Brian told me that we, as a college, are looking at roughly a population in the range of 35 or so new international students and a total of 100 to 105 international students, which I was informed makes The College of Idaho amongst the most diverse campuses in the Northwest (At least in terms of percentage. Our case doesn't stand up well in front of places with 35,000 students or something. But hey, quality over quantity any day, amirite?).
Now if you think about it, what point does having these 40-60 international kids around serve? I am one, and I am not really special. I don't have a 4.0 GPA, I don't play competitive sports; I don't really fit that mold of scholar-athlete that colleges prize. So why am I here? Why are the rest of the other international kids here? (Please note, I am not casting aspersions on the academic and scholastic prowess of my fellow international students, for all I know, they could be the result of the love child of Jesse Owens and J.B.S. Haldane.)
I think it is because we bring diversity. Now, right now you all would be rolling your eyes and calling me a tired schmuck dealing in cliches. In a way, you are correct. But you need to think why diversity is important. Not because it is politically correct, not because it makes a majority feel better about themselves, not because it eases the mythical white man's burden. It is important, especially in a college environment, because it brings with it friction, change and conflict. Now I don't mean conflict and friction in the manner it could be used to describe, say, the Watts Riots. No. This is positive conflict and friction. Yes, there is such a thing. For example, in my freshman year, I was rooming with this kid from a small town in Idaho. He was pretty stable and nice, but it was still a shock for him to live with this scrawny, scruffy Indian kid, the same way it was a shock for me to live with this farm boy. We had our issues, but we patched 'em up, and he became a close friend.
The point of this story was not that I can fit in with WASPs, but that putting different people together leads to interesting things, and if both parties are willing, mutual development.
Also, before I forget, we international kids also cook for you twice a year, and dance and sing for you once a year. It is not often that you see a bunch of South African guys do the gumboot one month, with Bosnian dances following, and then have Thai, Italian, Vietnamese, Indian and other miscellaneous cuisine served to you the next month. It is something, and you really need to see it to get it.
- Rahul Sharma
P.S. I am really sorry for the obnoxious watermarks, but these came from my web albums, which automatically puts on a watermark. Dont't ask, its a long story involving intellectual property theft and larceny and political intrigue.
P.P.S. So I also write for the Coyote and I did a profile on my roommate I mentioned. It is on my blog. You should go check it out here. It's really cool. It will make me really happy.