By Muqkadeen Poole
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I’m sitting in the cafeteria eating my lunch. Across from me, my Swiss friends are talking about their past weekend, behind them is my friend from Saudi Arabia talking to my friend from Australia about the latest soccer news. Behind them are my friends from Mexico talking to one of my friends from the Netherlands—probably about food. The thing is though, they are all speaking different
languages. Not just English, not just French, but Swiss-German, Spanish and Arabic.

Taking a sip of my water, I attempt to talk to my friend Marcella from Brazil in French asking her how her day was going. As the conversation continues and the meal concludes, I ponder on the question: what is diversity/inclusion? I also think about how the first half of my study abroad experience feels very similar to my first year at CSB/SJU.

Born in Newark, New Jersey travelling to Collegeville, Minnesota for college was a culture shock for me. People talked differently, walked differently, laughed differently, danced differently and interacted differently. I don’t put negative connotation on different, it was exactly what I expected and what I hoped for when choosing a university out of state. After two awesome years at CSB/SJU, full of ups and downs, but mostly ups, I decided to study abroad. Going from Collegeville, Minnesota to Cannes, France, was a culture shock. But, would you guess it was less of a shock than my transition into CSB/SJU?

My transition into the International College of Cannes for Foreign French Learners was a smoother transition than into the predominately white institution that is CSB/SJU. Genuine communication or willing discussion is lacking at CSB/SJU and present at this college in Cannes. Do people study abroad to only learn about culture for four months, only to go back to campus and not interact with anything different from what they’re used to again?

“Hi, where are you from? How many siblings do you have? What kind of food do you like? What do you want to do after school? Interesting, elaborate please.” These are the questions people asked me when conversing in Cannes. I did not have to go out of my way to meet someone very different than me, they met me halfway with interest and a listening ear. Now, I am not saying that this does not
happen on the CSB/SJU campuses, or that I dislike the institutions. What I am saying is that students who are very different rarely sit down and talk to each about their past, their beliefs passions or even their music taste.

Therefore, I have a request for every person who reads this article in The Record, and if this request is already a practice please continue.

I ask that you sit with someone new in the cafeteria, that you take out your earbuds, that you knock on the door of the neighbor you hardly know, that you tell the person with the shoes you like on that you like the shoes they have on, that you start a conversation, that you add them on Snapchat and actually contact them, that you sit with someone who looks different from you on the Link bus and talk to them and that you speak.

Speak, start a conversation, speak out, share experiences, speak proud.

This is the opinion of Muqkadeen Poole, SJU junior