Growing up in a small town, (pop. ... everyone else, everyone helps their neighbor. Most of the...

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.