Growing up in a small town, (pop. ) has many advantages. Everyone knew everyone else, everyone helps their neighbor. Most of the people I grew up with were the same nationality, race, from the same or similar religion, and same socioeconomic level. This all resulted in a very sheltered, very comfortable upbringing, with the majority of us having the same views of the world, of other people, and ideas. Little did I know, that when I transferred to Texas A&M to receive my formal education, that I would get an informal one as well. In the past two years, I have met so many people from different countries, of different races, religions, and from different socioeconomic levels and backgrounds. I met one student from Iraq who has made me feel differently about the war. He really is no different than the rest of us: a young man, trying to get a good education. His family had lived there for many years before coming to America. The tyranny and oppression he has talked about made me believe that the good that our troops can do there will far outweigh the bad things they are having to endure. Before meeting him, I often wondered why America needed to be involved. I was born & raised a Baptist. At first I just went to church with my mom because that was where she grew up. As I got older, I discovered that I, too, believed the same way. At A&M I have met many people that have a different belief system than I do. Getting to know them better has opened my eyes to why some people believe the way they do. For some, their way of seeing things is all they have ever known, much like me. I have come to realize that, although I am not going to change the way I believe, there is room in the world for many types of religions, and the ones that believe differently than me are not all necessarily fanatics. I was raised by my single mom on a school teachers salary. Although we did not get everything we ever wanted, my brother and I also never had to do without. We both attended A&M (my brother graduated in ’04). Most of the kids I grew up with were on the same economic level as we were, not rich, but definitely not poor. I have met many students from very rich and very poor families. I have discovered that most of them are just like most of the rest of us. Of course, there are going to be those who flaunt their wealth, or are ashamed of their lack of wealth, but for the most part, they are honest, hardworking kids just trying to better their education. I truly believe that my brief encounter here at A&M with the different people I have met, has changed the way I view many aspects of life. I am still the same girl from Academy, Texas, but I now understand and am more tolerant of different ways of life and people than I was before. I can look past the outward signs of difference and see the person as an individual created by God with likes, dislikes, loves, and disappointments just like me. Growing up in Academy was enjoyable and comfortable, but I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to expand my knowledge of other people and cultures.