This past Tuesday, the Trinity Business School put on a social event to allow us the opportunity to meet our fellow classmates. Part of me felt anxious walking into a room filled with people from countries all over just knowing bits and pieces about their countries and cultures. But this is exactly what I signed up for so I went into the room with an open mind and my head held high. The event had an open bar of beer and wine for all 200 business students so I quickly grabbed a glass of wine. The open bar sanctioned by the University was something that would never happen in the states or at least TCU, so at least that night I was able to always have a ‘glass-half-full.’
Once I met one person, the conversations just seamlessly went from there. Each time I met someone, one of the first questions was always, “Where are you from?” We said our respective countries and then often times talked about what we knew about each other’s country. I am always intrigued by what people know to believe true about America. Perception is their reality in this instance as it is what they know based on visiting, world news or word of mouth from people they have spoken with.
My Italian classmate, Leo, said, “Oh Americans, you love chewing gum and guns.” A different French student, Estelle, talked about how she knew about the big cities on the coasts, such as: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and New York City. On the contrary, when meeting my Indian classmate, Priyanka, I asked her about cows, as I’ve always heard they were sacred in India. She informed me that cows are indeed sacred in India as they are viewed as a sacred symbol of life in Hindu, but said, “Each individual makes a personal decision whether they want to eat it or not.” She told me that she does because she is not as strong in her faith of Hindu, but she can’t generalize it as a whole. Obviously it varies – there are 1.3 billion people that live in India who have the ability to make their own decisions. Thinking through it, there are 325 million people in America, each drastically different and unique in their own, great way. The conversations were quite enjoyable as I have been able to tell people more about America and more specifically Colorado while learning more about their respective countries and localities. We are breaking down perceptions that we have and continuing to understand our similarities and differences.
America, as any group of people, will always have a perception to outsiders. I’m happy to know that through open-minded conversations: I can help break down the borders of the world, understand what motivates people to wake up each day, and why they are proud of their country. I’m sure the more people I meet, the more it will impact the perceptions each of us have on one another in order to better our world one conversation at a time.
So cheers! Go share a pint of beer with someone and look at life with a ‘glass-half-full’ perspective. You may just learn that your country is known for chewing gum… so if anyone is up for it, feel free to send me a pack of Ice Breakers Ice Cube gum.