This December, Advanced Composition students studied, wrote, and recorded audio essays. Students wrote and recorded their own "This I Believe" essays inspired by the weekly This I Believe Podcast. While we're publishing the text of each essay below, we strongly encourage you to listen to each student's audio essay for a more intimate experience.
I remember being taught in elementary school that America is one big “Melting Pot”. I understood my country was diverse and that’s what made it unique. As a student I’ve had classes with kids of various races and ethnicities, and have been raised in an environment that doesn’t see color. However it was native for me to think this was the case for everyone else around the world.
I remember being told before my family trip to China in the summer of 2012 that there would be a major cultural difference. My parents warned me I would get stares, and while walking around Beijing, China I experienced it first-hand. Not only did people stare at me, but some people even followed my family and I. Throughout my whole trip in China, Chinese people as young as 10 and as old as 40 would come up to me and my sister and ask to take their picture with us, making me feel like a celebrity. This was outrageous to me and I began to realize how isolated China was from the rest of the world. Yes, I dressed and talked differently but I never thought that people would look at me with surprised eyes and confusion. Especially being half Asian, I can’t image what they would do if I had blond her and blue eyes. A difference I noticed was that, In general everyone had the same hair color and dressed in the same darker shades of color. The lack of uniqueness in fashion and style was unusual for a big city in China and is significantly different compared to an American city like New York City. The most shocking incent however occurred later in my trip when my family and me went to the Great Wall. It was a very hot day and my dad took off his shirt. Being half Arabic, he had quiet the amount of body hair and judging by the horrified looks my father was getting, this was not something common for Chinese people. One woman, when seeing my father, screamed and grabbed her child to shield them away from my father.
My trip to China made me appreciate America and its diversity. Something like this would never occur in the United States. Americans welcome diversity and respect uniqueness and in China diversity seemed to be rare or limited. It was surprising to learn that a culture could be so isolated and unaware of other cultures around the world. This made me love my country even more. I realized there was no other country in the world with as many interracial marriages or integrated schools. I feel fortune to have grown up with diversity and to eventually have kids that will grow up in the same environment as well. I finally understood what it meant for America to be one big “melting pot”. My country is built on diversity and for that reason I believe the United States is the best place to live.