How being a triple minority has helped me abroad

IMG_0071Me during a local trip to Howth, Ireland

The day I was born I was automatically labeled as a minority because of my skin color and my family’s low socioeconomic status. Fortunately, thanks to my aunt I was able to attend schools in one of the best school districts in North Carolina. However, this did not come without its own set of challenges. Although I grew up in a major city, my school, neighborhood, friends, and workplaces lacked diversity. Throughout all of my education, I have attended primarily white institutions. My peers, colleagues, and professors often didn’t resemble me, even though most of the people I have encountered growing up came from different backgrounds, different levels of socioeconomic status and often different sexual orientations.

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I am beyond thankful for being a triple minority as it has allowed me to be open-minded about other cultures and to learn more about what people show on the surface. While I have experienced collaborating with other people, learning about different cultures and working through differences, until a week ago I had never left the United States. I am currently studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland. Until now I have never lived in a totally different culture than the one I had grown so accustomed to. While I thought I understood how to navigate other cultures and new territory, living in Ireland for only a week has made me realize the true importance of being able to be fully open to embracing different opinions and different cultures. The world we live in today is becoming more and more diverse as well as connected. The barriers that once stood between different cultures, religions, and opinions are changing now more than ever. The ability to keep an open mind and to place yourself in someone else’s shoes is a valuable skill. Not only have I been able to connect more with locals through finding common ground between us, but I have been able to make stronger connections and grow personally as well as professionally through keeping an open mind. These are transferable skills that will help me in all aspects of my life by giving me the ability to make connections in the real world to develop my professional life. Exploring a whole new culture outside of America has allowed me to observe how other leaders, professionals, and students just like me are working towards their goals.

 

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While being a triple minority has helped build a foundation for me to openly accept new opinions and cultures, studying abroad has put those skills into use and is developing them more than I could have possibly fathomed.  Skills like being open-minded, knowing how to communicate in different methods and the ability to work with other people are universal skills. These are skills I have used so much in my daily life, but never truly realized how critical they would be to my future and development until going abroad.

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