The Power of Diversity

A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.

The doorbell rang incessantly. The rest of the NASA Sharpies (as we like to call ourselves) and I in the room looked at each other in confusion – the door was already wide open. Glancing over, we saw Kennedy walk in with a curious look on his face. “Why does it make that sound when I press that?” he asked us. We all responded by letting out a heartfelt chuckle. I explained to him that pressing that little button is usually used to signal to the residents living inside that there is a visitor waiting to be greeted. “Ah, that’s tight!” he replied while smiling. He had never seen such a device in his hometown of Tafuna, American Samoa. Although it may have seemed to be just a trivial difference in the two cultures, it was one of many moments at NASA SHARP that allowed me to experience firsthand the richness of diversity.Twenty of us flew into LAX, everyone from a different part of the United States or one of its outlying territories. The first night, we played a game where each of us was asked questions ranging from favorite sports teams to professional goals. I participated intently in the game, asking as many questions as I could to learn more about everyone. It became quite clear that although there were differences in our backgrounds and ethnicities, we had many interests in common. I began to realize that the disparities between us were not barriers but catalysts for meaningful interaction.I learned something different from each sharpie. Fozoh taught me how to solve a Rubik’s cube. Tiffany lent me some CDs that they listened to down in Mobile (properly pronounced “Mobeeeele”), Alabama. Andrea described life on a Navajo reservation and debunked many myths that I had. Kennedy told stories of how he could string thirty coconuts together back in Samoa. Jasmine even allowed me to try one of her special Puerto Rican fruits. I, personally, cooked authentic Chinese fried rice for the others and explained many times that we say “pop” instead of “soda” in the Midwest.Together, we would often stay up at late at night. Over chips and salsa, we discussed issues that we felt were pertinent. My views often clashed with others’ as we debated topics ranging from politics to movies. It was lighthearted and fun at the time, but now I look back with a sense of nostalgia. The environment that existed at NASA SHARP broadened my point of view and made me reevaluate my stance on certain issues. The beauty of our differences is that it allows us to have such different perspectives and intellectually stimulate others.Over the eight weeks, I developed a deep respect for the eclectic community that surrounded me. Coming from a homogenous suburb in the Midwest, I was in awe as we bonded. It is this desire to connect that I hope to bring to Yale – perhaps not by cooking fried rice for everyone, but by having an open mind and an avid determination to embrace the power of diversity.

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