If MSU wants to establish a reputation for having an internationally-friendly environment, its students must be willing to broaden their cultural horizons and reach out to students of all backgrounds.
Without wholeheartedly embracing multiculturalism, we threaten the idea of a unified student body.
Comfort zones are tricky things. They push us away from new experiences and keep us comfortably confined to the familiar. Besides, it’s much easier to stick with what we’re accustomed to when the unknown is such a scary place.
Omari Sankofa II
But let’s consider for just one moment where we all are at this point in our lives.
Attending a university is an enormous privilege and around us is perhaps the largest wealth of perspectives and experiences we might ever encounter.
In this formative period, we have been presented with the unique opportunity to expand our worldview. Yet, the majority of us pass this chance right by.
MSU has students from more than 130 other countries, but chief among those is China.
According to the Office of the Registrar, there currently are 3,453 students from China at MSU, which is one out of every 13 students. This number has skyrocketed from 742 just five years ago.
To think the adoption of a multicultural perspective is unnecessary would only hold MSU graduates and their respective countries back in an increasingly globalized world.
China is in a geopolitically-unique position with a middle class ballooning alongside their economy, not unlike America in the 20th century. They are a growing power — both economically and culturally — so what stops American students from intermingling with their Chinese colleagues?
People often like to claim language and culture barriers. But at its core, this simply is an excuse.
Common ground is only hard to find for those who don’t look for it and — just like developing any friendship — effort is essential.
It’s simply easier to stay within our friend groups and keep our distance from those who seem different. This close-minded approach is a recipe to perpetuate the occurrence of serious incidents, such as the vandalism of Chinese students’ cars last June, with one vehicle reading, “Go back to China.”
Imagine arriving at a university in a foreign country where your first language was not spoken.
If you weren’t confident in that language, how willing would you be to reach out and speak to people who grew up in a different society and were deeply involved in a culture you were unfamiliar with?
It’s our responsibility to be open and inclusive to all those at MSU who might not have the confidence that comes with living in your home country.
In order to achieve this, latent xenophobia and stereotyping must be flushed out. It has no place at MSU and only stands to undo whatever progress is made.
Our university is the common thread that can unite us all. For that unity to become a reality, we have to realize the barriers that divide us are of our own creation, and we must work together to pull them down.