Upon returning home from my trip to Vanderbilt University to study World Religions for three weeks, I was asked if my trip was worth it. I responded worth what? They replied all the hard work and time you had put in to get there, was it worth it? Beforehand I knew the time for this blog was here, but It hadn’t become clear to me what I‘d write about because there was so much to choose from. Though at that moment, it became clear to me that I’d write about culture
Before I left to go to Vanderbilt, before I had been to the ILC Orientation, before all the dinners, and emails, during my interview I was asked, “Why do you want to go to Vanderbilt World Religions?” I thought about my dreams and aspirations and also the world around me; I thought about how much we all as a human population know so little about each other, where we come from and what we do. I thought about religion and how it has become such a controversial issue over time. I answered I choose World Religions so that I can relate to the variety of people in this world and I revealed a thought of mine to become a preacher later in life. World Religions was a chance to bridge the gap between peoples of the world and it would be a way for me to explore all customs, culture, and beliefs, but little did I know the differences in culture within our borders of America.
There have been recent accounts of a young Jewish teenager trying to perform his morning prayers on a plane, which consisted of putting boxes on his arms and head. This resulted in the plane being immediately diverted and the boy’s detainment. In Murfreesboro, Tennessee people argue against the establishment of an Islamic center built by a fellow American. They go as far as to let themselves be made a mockery of on shows like “The Night Show,” where these men and women claim that the reason they are against the establishment of a religious center is because they feel as though all Muslims are attempting to take over the world.
worship at Murfreesboro Islamic Center
We learned about the 5 major world religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism) and others including their beliefs and why they might think that way according to the origins of the religion. Most importantly we learned that ignorance destroys. It destroys families, communities, and countries themselves; it can change the Land of the free, the home, and the brave into a land that breaks up a family of immigrants.
One should learn as much as they can about something new or different than themselves because you can create an asset out of a potential liability. Instead of shunning someone’s ways, one can learn about them and adapt them to one’s ways potentially making them a better person. A challenge at Vanderbilt and in life will be not only applying this principle to international culture, but also our regional differences within America.
Yo son, and Ya’ll, aren’t the most common words heard among people of California, let alone the bay area, though at the Vanderbilt Summer Academy I was exposed to a wide variety from all over the country. My classmates within my World Religions class came from 5 different states alone and in the program itself were kids from Florida, Georgia, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kentucky, just to name a few.
Within the dorms, I was exposed to many different accents and backgrounds that I had never encountered before. I tried to learn as much as I could from each region in order to broaden my knowledge. One of the VSA administrators said it best when he compared this experience sharpening a knife. We were all smart kids in one environment, instead of trying to fight each other to see who was smartest, we should simply learn from each other sharpening each other’s intellects. I’ve learned things about computers, lacrosse, taxi’s in New York, music, League of Legends and other computer games, physics, Taylor Swift, cicada’s, Tennessee and more which I would have never come in contact with if I hadn’t gone to Vanderbilt.
Yet to truly grasp this experience of education, culture, and college life, one can’t simply explain it one has to go experience it. So what my cohorts and I plan to do is hold seminars for Pinole Valley High School Sophomores and Freshman letting them know about the true importance of academics and the doors it can open like the Ivy League Connection, Vanderbilt Summer Academy, and the real goal college.
We also want to express the need for searching outside our own boundaries of California because there is so much more to learn outside the classroom and at schools like Vanderbilt. You are able to reach outside of what you know therefore expanding your knowledge base. Theseare the things our community needs to know.
This as stated earlier was an amazing journey, and I learned a lot and more importantly things Ill never forget. I'd like to thank God for this moment and the moments preceding this because I've come so far after three weeks. I also want to thank Ms. Kronenberg, Mr. Ramsey, and Don Gosney for giving me the opportunity for the trip of a lifetime. I also want to thank my amazing team starting with the chaperon Ms.Bulls and then my cohorts Ms.Julia Chang and Ms.Aiyana Hedeen-Garrett. Last but not least I want to thank any readers of this blog past, present, and future because we know this was not all in vain.