Multicultural Groups: Self-Segregation Or Finding A Community?
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Multicultural Groups: Self-Segregation Or Finding A Community?

A personal journey of finding where I belong.

You know the old saying, "birds of a feather flock together," right?

There's also "opposites attract," although I think we probably just made these phrases up in order to justify the behavior we saw around us, and in reality it can go either way.

But something I noticed ever since coming to college (my campus has around 30% diversity - no comment for now whether this is negative or positive) was that the people of color almost exclusively hung out together.

I pose this question as a multiracial, multicultural person coming from a 98% white hometown: is joining and actively participating in multicultural groups (such as an African American society or Asian students association or Latinx American student group) self-segregation, or is it simply finding a group of people who understand the finer points of your culture and speak your language?

I say "joining" and "actively participating" because I am a repeat offender of "joining" clubs and groups and getting emails about events and meetings... and never attending.

Active participation means you seek out the members of the group, become friends with them and maybe even spend time with them outside of meeting times.

The members of my family have expressed differing opinions on whether joining racial or culturally affiliated groups is a good idea. I remember excitedly reporting to my older sister that I had just signed up for the African American society, and I was surprised when she responded that she had been invited to join the one at her institution, but declined as it was self-segregating and she wanted to expand her social circles.

As time went by, I stopped attending African American society and Asian student association meetings mostly because I was far too busy.

I remained on the email list, kept up my friendships with the people I had met, and often went to the large events. I noticed that the black, Asian and Latinx students were clumped up together in the dining hall (except the athletes of color, which is another interesting can of worms).

My friends, who are also for the majority people of color, and I had realized that POCs stuck together. I can count the number of close white friends I have on one hand. Of course I have several more peripheral white friends, but my good friends are almost exclusively POC.

I continue to grapple with this question as I attend race talks, events and workshops. Am I isolating myself, and is this indirectly causing problems like mistrust and stereotyping? Or am I discovering that I'm not alone in my experiences, building a support network, learning about race relations and making sure my voice is heard?

Maybe it's both - and the real issue is how to balance it all.

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College Life |  Source: L. Smith

The Best Signs From The Equality March

The LGBTQ community is pretty creative.

This past Sunday thousands marched in America, and across the globe, to support the LGBTQ community. A total of 120 cities went out for the National Equality March to support the LGBTQ community, and marchers in San Francisco participated in Resist March to celebrate America's diversity and support human rights.

Not only were there thousands who participated in the march, but they also came with some very creative signs, shirts and more. Here are some of the best pride props on the streets from the march.

To join the fight for equality, check out the PrideFest calendar.

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Finding The Upside In Our Russia Connections

It's not actually upside.

Over the past few weeks, we've seen report after report of Russia blatantly interfering with the 2016 presidential election. With those reports came the inevitable denying/blame deflections by either Trump himself or his press secretary Sean Spicer.

Now, the AP has reported that Trump's "former" campaign chairman Paul Manafort was at one point on a 10 million dollar per year salary from a Russian billionaire in order to forward the interests of Vladimir Putin.

With our imminent Russian takeover on the horizon, I find myself trying to find any possible upside to the situation. Here are the best of this worst case scenario:

Russian vodka is downright incredible. Whether it be Stolichnaya, Smirnoff, Zyr, or just Russian Standard, it's getting us delightfully shitfaced. Just last night, my friend and I easily split a fifth of Stoli and I woke up only slightly hungover.

Vodka is a beautiful, beautiful thing, and Russia's influence would mean more brands to choose from! I wouldn't complain.

These Furry Hats
Turns out they're called ushankas. I had no idea. Either way, you're gonna tell me that an influx of these isn't gonna be the best thing to ever happen to winter? I'd have one for every day of the week.

Never again would I have to feel the literal pain of my ears being too cold, because they'd be too busy being engulfed in some poor dead animal's fur. I'm sure that animal would be pleased knowing it's keeping me warm though.


The Ability To Tame Bears
Okay, I could be making this up, but I really don't think it's that far fetched. Fact: grizzly bears are awesome as cubs. Another fact: they're scary as shit grown up, and nobody wants to fuck with them.

So the ability to raise a bear cub as my own is definitely an upside to Russia taking over our country.


Immediate Induction Into The Russian Mob
I am positive this is just how it works. You know how cool it would be to be in the Russian Mob? That's just your job.

To be a mobster and illegally be in charge of different parts of cities. That's SICK. All you gotta do is speak broken Russian, and you're in.

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Five Things to Know When Traveling in Africa

Good luck finding any peanut M&M's.

You hit Europe with your parents during high school, and you mastered Australia during your semester abroad. You might have even spent a summer backpacking Asia or Latin America. You are an official travel expert.

The only continent (besides Antarctica, but fuck that shit) that remains unexplored is Africa. But the jump from Naples to Nairobi is a big one, so get ready. Here are some helpful tips to ease the transition.

Wi-Fi is rare.
And when you do happen to find the magical internet, it is of a quality that will make you yearn for dial-up. I'm just old enough to remember downloading porn one pixel at a time, and the internet in Addis Ababa is about on par with that. Internet cafes will become your friend and mom and dad will have to get used to just one email a day.

America means money.
I've spent a lot of time in New York City, so I'm fairly used to begging. As soon as you are identified as American, you will be viewed as dollar signs. This means people trying to charge you more, people asking you for more, and people trying to rob you. Keep your city hat on and have your wits about you.

Bring an extra phone.
I recommended you keep your wits about you. I have been in Addis with my buddy for less than a month and we both have had our cell phones stolen. Someone took his out of his bag on the bus, and I was the victim of an elaborate pick-pocketing scheme. Luckily, a stolen phone for us just means a shitty day, but bring back ups or you'll be a little stranded.

Comfort foods are rare.
I have been unable to find peanut M&M's even though it's basically consuming my existence at this point. It started out as a mildly peculiar event, but now I scour every shop we pass looking for that sexy yellow bag. So far no luck. I love the food in Ethiopia, but it is incredibly different to what I would eat back home. Get your fill before you leave and bring some snacks!

The people are so caring.
I have been to a few countries in Africa and this one holds true for every one of them. People go out of their way if you look lost and will eagerly show off their English to you. All my Ethiopian friends call me after we hang out to make sure I got home safely. It's like having a country full of nervous parents. It's honestly adorable.

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What I've Learned From Seeing the World

The best part? The people.

When I was 15, my mom passed away after a 10-month battle with colon cancer. It was the absolute worst heartbreak I have ever experienced. I'm convinced she was the greatest mom in the entire world. She devoted all her time to volunteering and was so beautiful and kind that everyone from guys at my high school to the McDonald's employee that made her coffee every morning both gawked and felt like they had known her for ages.

In her final hours, with my sisters and me by her side, my mom's last words were telling my siblings and me to "see the world." Fast forward four years and many miles traveled later, this is what I've learned:

The best part will be the people.
From Costa Rica to England to New York City, my favorite part of every trip has been the friendships I've made. At each destination, it amazes me just how wonderful the human spirit is. I sound corny, but other people are the reason I have healed.

If you can travel, go somewhere that's not luxurious first.
My first trip after losing my mom was to Costa Rica, where I stayed in a tiny shack with a host family. Living with next to nothing, the people there were the happiest I've ever met. Their motto was "Pura Vida," which means pure life. I realized how much I had relied on things to try to be happy, and how freeing it is to let go.

There's no time limit.
If you want to see the world, don't worry if you can't go now. But I think it's important to always have a plan for a trip you're excited about and saving for (mine is to take my grandma to Australia).

You're not going to find yourself anywhere.
You will learn a lot about yourself. It's just about letting your best parts show. That's where people like my mom get their "inner light," from, becoming more of who they already are.

You can see a lot of the beauty in the world without going too far.
For the first years after losing my mom, I stayed close to home with the people that loved and knew my mom best. What I learned from hearing their stories, sharing memories, and fighting through heartbreak was that there is so much damn beauty in this world, and you don't have to spend a dime to see it.

If you can't travel, try this. See the world from a new perspective: notice how thankful you are for family, appreciate the landscape you've always seen in a new way, love the life that's passing by so quickly like it's all you've got.

The big adventure, the journey you've been waiting to go on, this is it, and it's too precious to waste a second.

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College Life |  Source: klwsk

Why You Should Take a Gap Year

There's no time like the present.

YOCO. You only college once. You only have four years of undergraduate schooling to make lifelong friends, drink cheap beer, and be a young and free adult. What happens after college? You get a job or an internship and start working while you work your way up in the industry until you retire 50 years later.

OK, maybe that was a bit dramatic, but in a sense, it's true. Once you are done with college, unless you go back for graduate school, you almost always get a job and that's where your fun, carefree life full of Natty Light and rooftop parties begins to come to a halt.

But is doesn't have to be that way. This is the time to do all those things that you have always wanted to do. Stop saying, "Oh I'll do it someday when I'm older." Chances are it won't ever happen if you keep saying that.

Before you take that internship that you don't really want, or before you take that job that doesn't really interest you, think about what you really want to do in order to make yourself happy and the places you've always wanted to go.

Graduate with your class, go party with your friends, and take a gap year. A lot can happen in one year, and you can discover unimaginable, beautiful things about yourself. We have our whole lives to work. Why not just take one year for us?

Why not travel to California and see the Hollywood sign if that's what you've always wanted? Why not buy a ticket to go to London and see Big Ben? Why not visit Belize or Panama? Why not bike across the United States? Why not? We are so young. Why not do these things now?

I spent four months studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and that was all it took for me to understand how important it is to make your dreams a reality. You learn things that cannot be taught in a classroom; you learn things about yourself that you didn't even know existed; and you discover what it really feels like to live and be free.

Go see the world. There is too much out there for it to be left unseen.