“We are different, yet the same”

ASA logoAlvin Loong, Vice President of the Asian Student Association, addressed core issues of diversity during the MLK appreciation event held in the cafeteria on Thursday, Jan. 24.

Opening, Loong spoke of how leaders who created change worked in a similar fashion, “They garnered support from different ethnicities and different religions and this is something very strong, and they all work for their goals using the virtue of peace to getting to a unified goal.”

During the month of January, the ASA created a survey of five questions regarding issues pertaining to discrimination, racism and stereotypes, which they asked other students. They received the feedback of 109 students.

The survey included questions such as “Has anyone ever refused you because of your race or nationality?” and “Have you ever had a difficult time engaging with another person of a different race or nationality?”

Only a quarter of people surveyed at BC sense direct discrimination.

The responses of two ASA panel members were filmed and many of the answers were positive.

Thuy “Tweedy” Ngoc Pham, a member of ASA, explained that indeed it was difficult for her when she first came to America, but  she integrated due to the programs and people who welcomed her.  She is now pretty comfortable and open minded about different cultures.

Other panelists also personally responded to the questions. Chunggyo “Ck” Lee, president of ASA says that he has faced unequal treatment that was never direct.

Overall the results were positive, indicating that BC is entering a different stage where different cultures are at least respected, even if not understood.

Looking around BC, it is impossible to miss the diversity that is present.

BC boasts of this aspect, but also has a heightened eye to a present issue of discrimination.

Among the student body, it is not surprising, and almost deemed absolutely ordinary that students from similar backgrounds knew and interacted almost completely with one another. This was not limited to only one race, ethnicity or national background, but included almost everyone.

The real issues of diversity were not that different kinds of people treated each other badly but that they rarely engaged in dealing with one another.

The panelists, Loong, Lee and Patrick Percy, member of ASA, discussed how lack of understanding of different cultures and backgrounds could sometimes lead to a lack of interaction.

Loong praised professor’s efforts in trying to present opportunities for students to work with each other and gain a familiarity with different backgrounds. Unfortunately, their influence is limited to the classroom.

The survey showed that many students find that there is difficulty interacting with other groups and perhaps that is what is holding us apart.

Many possible reasons were put forward and discussed. A sense of not understanding sometimes leads to complete avoidance, resulting in a lack of knowledge and the creation of stereotypes.

There are ideas present that deter the evolution of mutual understanding and intergraded diversity. Loong summarized it as: “If you don’t like it, simply hate on it.”

This not only increases the issue of discrimination but builds a vicious cycle for both parties in the story prejudice.

Fortunately, despite visible and skin-deep differences and misunderstandings,  everyone is much alike. All students struggle with the same homework and like to have a good laugh. Optimistically with awareness, increased knowledge and the extra mile, it is hopeful that we not only be diverse here at BC but integrated with each other.