Two Strands of Hair

Diversity building experience

School was almost over and I could not wait to walk out of the gloomy library. Just when I thought I was done for the day, I noticed four girls sitting two tables away from me. They talked loudly without any concern for the quietness around them. Their hysterical laughs caught my attention. I thought to myself: What is so hilarious? I tried to concentrate on my biology textbook but eavesdropping was too tempting.The first line of the drama I heard was the most memorable and still rings clearly in my head. “Oh gosh, did you see her head?” one of the girls sputtered to a friend next to her. “Yeah, of course. I mean, how obvious can it be. That looks totally weird,” the friend responded. “Can’t she wear a hat or something? How does she walk around like that?” the first girl asked, in a louder voice. “Seriously, what happened to her?” a third girl chimed in, joining the nasty conversation. “It looks like she’s got two strands of hair,” sneered the first girl. “If I was her, I would wear a wig!” A series of giggles followed. The girl in question, the subject of the taunts, was ill. Without hair, she looked different from the rest of us – especially those girls who had long and beautiful hair. As a new student to the school, I was awestruck by this incident. I have been in Corvallis for only three months now and have already encountered many such rude and malicious comments about people’s looks and bodies. This incident has taught me a more valuable lesson than teachers in the classrooms. When trying to put myself in the taunted girl’s shoes, I find I cannot imagine being the subject of jeers and laughter throughout my life. Despite all that, this girl has the courage and strength to come to school to learn without complaints. The catty girls’ chat makes me question what America calls equality and justice. It is not an issue of plastering non-discriminatory policies on big posters and job applications. To learn to truly appreciate diversity requires an inner respect for different ethnicities and cultures, and I believe that actions speak louder than words.After the library incident, I decided that the time had come for me to change the attitudes toward those who are considered “weird” by the school community and those who are grouped outside of the box defined by their peers. The girl with “two strands of hair” was my inspiration to accept others’ differences as positive assets and not as abnormalities. I decided to establish a club to help those with disabilities, ranging from patients receiving chemotherapy to children with dyslexia. I hope this club will make the student body more welcoming and make life easier for those who already cannot enjoy all the benefits “normal” people have. The club will host meetings for those who feel rejected and need a friendly environment to share their thoughts or to speak up against negative treatments from peers. It will become a safe haven for those unique individuals who make America a truly diverse nation.

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