The Idea of a University
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The Idea of a University
People have long assumed that university is the home of the educated and open minded people. People expand their personal horizons here. The public believes university students can deal with the cultural differences of human beings. The public believes students can deal with these differences because university students are exposed to a wide range of academic subjects including Humanities. Humanities exposes students to world literature, art, and geography. The public expects these subjects to aid university students in understanding cultural differences.Use of cultural differences should be emphasized in the universities. These differences should be emphasized not to humiliate or disgrace people but to influence students to accept and acknowledge cultural differences.
The world is a complex mixture of people with diverse languages, skin tones, and cultural differences. These differences are the most evident in human beings. People are classified according to one or more of these differences. But the division gives the impression of being a negative one. Exposing these differences in universities and colleges should not be the source any problems. In fact, exposing these differences should help people understand and at times lend a hand to disadvantaged college students.
Disadvantaged college students are the majority in college today, were yesterday, and will be tomorrow. At times disadvantaged college students feel ashamed of their cultural background. Disadvantaged college students feel ashamed because they feel other people will put them down. They don t want to talk about it. Concerning shame because of social conditions, Bell Hooks says that Class differences were boundaries no one wanted to face or talk about (95). Yet concealing cultural background can cause misunderstanding among peers.
Learning about the class neighbor s cultural background, may perhaps help understand that neighbor s personality. Commenting on cultural background, Mike Rose depicts the life of a Guatemalan boy having trouble in school. The Guatemalan boy is troubled by his past. His brother was killed and dismembered near his house. These incidents are unusual for some people. The place that rose describes is filthy, chaotic, and unkept. this kind of place is the home of many college and university studentsw. Certain college students have had a depressing type of life.
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University University Students World Literature Wide Range Cultural Differences Class Differences Social Conditions Bell Hooks Other People College Students
This lifestyle can shape their personality.
The university is the assemblage of learned men, zealous for their own sciences, and rivals of each other, are brought, by familiar intercourse and for the sake of intellectual peace, to adjust together the claims and relations of their respective subjects of investigation (49), claims John Henry Newman. College students go to college to learn and to become intellectually ready. Accepting and understanding disadvantaged college students differences is a component of college intellects. There are college students who come from cultural backgrounds such as the Guatemalan boy s. The habits of a college student with this type of background will be different from other college students.
Exposing these types of cultural differences to the public will aid in understanding the attitudes of a group of people. Exposing the differences can answer some questions such as academic progress. College students can misinterpret other college students slow progress. Exposing the differences can also help appreciate these differences; food, clothing, language, and music. Not exposing cultural differences can also cause disadvantaged college students to acquire the mindset of the dominant few. Emphasizing said statement, Bell Hooks says We gradually assume a mindset similar to those who dominate and oppress, that we lose critical consciousness because it is not reinforced or affirmed by the environment (98). If cultural differences are not exposed and emphasized, these differences will be taken for granted or forgotten. In Keeping Close to Home, Hooks says that her mom didn t want her to go to college. Her mother was afraid that Bell would reject where she came from. This fear of rejection happens often with disadvantaged college students. Fear of rejecting the past is the most important reason differences should be emphasized. Students will keep their culture if other people appreciate it. Emphasizing cultural differences in universities and colleges can develop a love for individuals cultural differences.
Universities and colleges can resolve fear of rejecting cultural backgrounds by offering courses to help its students understand other cultural backgrounds. These courses should emphasize as many cultures as possible. The courses should point out differences such as language, culture, food, and music. College students won t be able to appreciate other cultures if they re not exposed to these cultures. For example, when someone from a different culture speaks to one from another culture, there might be a clash. Black people, Chicanos, and Euro-Americans are all American citizens, but they have different dialects. Making these cultural differences accessible to college students can avoid misunderstanding and clashes among them. In Keeping Close to Home , Bell Hooks also points out that her audiences can t relate to the things she talks about. Her audiences, mainly white, feel ignored. This reaction by her audience is due to the unfamiliarity of Hooks s culture and theirs.
Emphasizing different cultures in college can also teach college students that main culture is not the only culture around. Many college students come from homes where a culture, different from the main culture, has been generated for many years. These college students are strangers to a lot of main culture s habits and customs. They will not use the same phrases. Black people have their own phrases as well. Black students have their accent in speaking. These cultural differences can also divide college students.
Lack of exposure of cultural differences can divide college students. College students will hang around with their own kind because of the fear of being rejected by others. Students don t want to go to unknown territory. They want to feel comfortable when speaking or eating. Many times, this division is due to the unfamiliarity of other cultures. This division among students can lead to false arguments of racism. Occasionally, racism is erroneously mistaken with this division. It is up to the universities and colleges to remedy such dilemma. Mike Rose agrees with this idea when he talks about Frank Marell. Frank Marell, an Italian immigrant, lived in The Bronx. La Bronx is where many Italian immigrants live. Frank and his family decided to go live there because there were other Italian families like them in La Bronx. Frank s family was looking for that familiarity of language, music, and customs. The Bronx was the only place found at that time. There was a totally different culture thriving in La Bronx outside the main culture of the great New York. The story of Frank Marell is repeating itself here in Los Angeles. Today, Latin Americans are coming to America. As expected, Latin Americans look for that corner where is similar to home, Los Angeles.
The universities and colleges are responsible for emphasizing cultural differences to prepare college students to confront the reality of division on campus. One of the goals of the university for students, according to John Henry Newman, is to learn to respect, to consult, and most important, to aid each other. This respect comes from being knowledgeable about other cultures and distinguishing showing consideration for them. College students need a guide to instigate study of other cultures. College students are not mature enough to start learning about other cultures on their own. Therefore, is the universities and colleges mission to accomplish the task of exposing students to these differences.
Colleges and universities can facilitate students of different cultures to maintain their voice whilst gaining an education. Maintaining any cultural background is important to enrich the future of any culture. Keeping the cultural background concealed in college is similar to concealing your identity and persona. By not allowing students to become familiar with other cultures, universities and colleges are closing the doors on democracy. The democracy that forms part of the mission of colleges around the world. Universities and colleges will head in the direction of a monoculture. One big culture that everyone follows. The colorful cultures that once embrace the world will cease to exist. Thesecultures will have been pushed to the margin like much of the literature of our nation: from American Indian songs and chants to immigrant fiction to working class narratives, claims Mike Rose (115).
College students go to school to free their mind. These students want to change their mind for the better. Better means freeing themselves from prejudices and biases of people of a different cultural background. College students are the future professionals of this world. These students will be responsible for working with and for people of diverse cultures. Some of these college students are preparing to enter into the business world. Nowadays, business means global market. The majority of businesses now are competing with international companies. Business people travel to many parts of the world. Politicians, educators, and other college graduates are required to travel to other countries at one point or another during their careers. Meeting people from a different cultural background is inevitable. Universities and colleges is the place to start making important changes. Changes that require pointing out and emphasizing differences to make students aware of our environment and cultural differences.
1. Hooks, Bell. Keeping Close to Home . (2000): 93-103.
2. Rose, Mike. Lives on the Boundary . (2000): 105-118
3. Newman, John Henry. The Idea of a University . (2000): 46-49.
Yale University Application Essay on Racial or Cultural Differences
Essay by Christina Mendoza
"Ha ha! Christina is a dirty Mexican!"
Growing up in a small, conservative community, it's easy to be shoved into your own category if you don't look or act like everyone else. My hair and eyes, instead of being blonde and blue like all of my Czech classmates, were chocolate and espresso. My last name had a "z" in it, and my grandmother called me "mija." By the time I was in grade school, the teasing began, and I was hurt and confused. Didn't all grandmothers call their grandchildren "mija"? Why did everyone except for me have blue eyes? And why was I being called "dirty Mexican" when I was cleaner than the boy who made the remark?
After an afternoon of teasing and tormenting from my classmates, I asked these questions to my mother, between sobs. By this time, she had become extremely good at giving me the "you're unique and beautiful" speech, but it was hard for her to truly empathize with me because neither she nor my father knew how I felt. She was a Caucasian who grew up in California; he was a Mexican American who grew up as the majority in San Antonio. I was the product of the two—the "half-breed" daughter who was raised in the small town of Seymour, population 2,800.
My other family members didn't seem to have any trouble fitting in. My father's ethnicity is well respected. He is the only doctor within a fifty-mile radius who can speak Spanish. My sister was the beauty queen of our town—her sleek, glossy hair and olive complexion were the envy of every girl. My little brother received the recessive genes (fair skin, blue eyes), so he looks like everyone else in Seymour. I felt I was stuck somewhere in the middle of my siblings, stuck in the middle of two cultures, and not accepted by either.
Time does have a way of healing things. I didn't just wake up one morning and think, "I'm proud to be Hispanic," but as I have matured, I have learned not to be ashamed of my ethnicity. Instead of hiding who I really am, I have embraced my Mexican heritage and have become proud of it. Finding out about the many opportunities that are available to students of Hispanic descent has motivated me even more to delve deeper into my culture.
Looking back, I couldn't imagine wanting to dye my hair blonde to feel better about myself. The blonde girls are unique in their own way, but diversity makes the world go round. I absolutely love being different and not walking the same path as everyone else. The last racist comment I received was after I was named a National Hispanic Scholar. My assailant said in a mocking tone, "I wish I could be a smart Mexican." Feeling sorry for his cultural ignorance, I smiled and replied, "Yeah, I bet you do."
Christina Mendoza attends Yale University.
"I could't imagine wanting to dye my hair blonde"
Kids can be cruel, and students who come from minority backgrounds often have difficult stories to tell. Such is the case for author Christina Mendoza, who has the added twist of being part of a racially mixed family. Her essay tells the story of how she learned to take pride in being Mexican American. Christina does not identify one turning point or significant experience, and her essay is the better for it. Instead, she describes a process of evolution in which she gradually learns to take pride in her mixed-race background.