Building bridges of understanding

Julio M. Ramirez, Contributing Writer

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CCP Student Organization, “Outliers G.S.U” Helps Build Cultural Awareness

Two years ago, I came to this country with a lot of dreams and $200 that I saved from working a whole year in my country. While I knew this journey wouldn’t be easy, my intuition told me it was the correct path. It would allow me to keep growing as a person and help my family to have a better life. I did not have any knowledge about how the American system worked and what I should do to be successful. To figure out what it took to make immigrants successful in this country became my new obsession.

One of the first things that I learned was to belong to a community. So, with two partners we decided to create an organization called OUTLIERS G.S.U. Our mission is to create safe spaces and blocks of education for the immigrant community. For this reason, we started to create events and workshops where people from different cultures, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientation and migration statuses can meet and get a better understanding and perspective that different people have about same issues.

Last Saturday, we hosted an event called “Cultural Diversification” at Drexel University about how having another background can affect the way you grow in the United States. One of our speakers mentioned how growing up in a predominantly white school in her childhood years made her feel disconnected from her Latino heritage. Another one mentioned how all her life she was the only Latino girl in the classroom and how she does not identify with any of her classmates. Additionally, one of our speakers wrote a book about her experiences as an African American woman during her years in high school.

In fact, not many people ask themselves about how it feels being part of a minority community or what we feel when other people look at you like as if they were trying to say that you do not belong here. One of our members talked about the experiences of growing in an environment where most of his peers from his own background were bullies and not interested in school. Given this environment, he discussed the difficulties of what it took to separate from that group and growing apart from his own community.

One of our speakers talked about how we need these spaces to know who we are as members of different communities and the necessity of educating other communities about our cultures. One of the co-founders of our organization talked about the meaning of belonging to a community where people do not expect you to go to college. He mentioned that people were very surprised when he told them that he was studying Software Engineering at Drexel and that he came from Community College.

Finally, one speaker talked about how white privilege was real and not just something discussed in sociology classes to bored students. She acknowledged that she never experienced the struggle of being considered a second citizen in her own country or that she never experienced racism.

As a Latino man, I experienced that and I know what it feels being isolated. I know that this is the same feeling for most of my brothers and sisters from different communities that are not part of the majority in this country. If you feel like that or you want to stop this to happen I want to tell you that you are not alone; we are like you and we want to help you by creating bridges of understanding and destroying the walls of ignorance that separate us from each other.

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Building bridges of understanding