To my amazement, Loomis Chaffee’s diversity was quite different from what I had expected.
I will start with the facts. Loomis Chaffee, with 675 students representing 30 states and 40 countries, creates a community that values diversity by establishing a student body composed of students from all around the United States and over the world. However, when I first set foot in the Loomis dining hall as a new junior, the busy scene was far from what I was looking forward to.
Although it has yet been a month, I could feel the undeniable effort that the school has made to include its international students, from orientations to cultural outburst. Although these programs provide international students with opportunities to get to know other fellow international students, the degree of exposure these international students receive is minimal — after all, international students make up only 17% of the entire student body. The limited chances to meet with diverse groups of people are mainly through classes and clubs, and despite these given opportunities, I wondered whose responsibility it may be to establish relationships among different groups of people.
Now that it has been several weeks, it is not surprising for me to walk into the Loomis Chaffee dining hall to see a table of solely international students or American athletes. Although Loomis Chaffee is known for its inclusive community, isn’t it ironic to see the lack of diversity even at dinner tables? But before making any hasty conclusion, it is essential to think about the underlying reasons. Some may claim that certain international students tend to be more introverted and shy compared to domestic students. However, I believe the difference in culture between international students and domestic students act as barrier for connecting on a intimate level. Afterall, we didn’t grow up watching the same cartoons, listening to the same songs, or learning the same stories. Being aware of these differences can easily trigger hesitation.
I believe that the only way for our school to be truly diverse is for us students to make a difference. Forget about the intimidation; forget about the differences. Walk with a new classmate to class and ask her about Canadian hockey, or ask a friend to teach you how to bake All-American apple pie on a Saturday. Building an inclusive community is not in the hands of the institution; it is within the student body’s free will to help establish it.