I have always been used to diversity and difference. In Myanmar, I attended an international school where my classmates were the children of foreign diplomats from all over the world. I attended high school in New York City where the student body was 60 percent Asian and the school atmosphere embraced diversity. I was used to walking in Manhattan and seeing at least 10 different restaurants offering 10 different types of cuisines within a five-block radius. When I applied to Georgetown, I was attracted to its Jesuit identity and its commitment to try and embody these ideals. My favorite ideal, and the one that has become the most relevant in my life, is “community in diversity.” To me, this means embracing our different backgrounds and viewpoints because we always have something we can learn from each other.
Growing up in this type of environment, I experienced a culture shock when I first arrived at Georgetown. Georgetown has an Asian population — inclusive of both Asian internationals and Asian-Americans — comprising 10 percent of the student body. Despite the fact that Georgetown may not look very diverse in terms of sheer numbers, the amount of diversity on our campus in practice is still significant. This is greatly embodied in the different multicultural groups and the fact that there is usually at least one cultural event going on almost every single day of the academic calendar.
Over the years, more and more cultural groups are collaborating and co-sponsoring with each other. It’s refreshing to see two cultural groups that may not normally interact co-sponsor an event in order to bring their two communities in touch. I think it is important that we continue to move toward greater collaboration between cultural groups, especially since many of their initiatives overlap. However, at the same time, the greater abundance of events — both co-sponsored and stand-alone — may be too many to keep track of or to even attend.
This semester, I joined the Georgetown University Student Association as director of outreach. One of my duties includes chairing the Multicultural Council, an initiative that primarily aims to provide a direct and constant line of communication between cultural groups and the GUSA executive. Second, it hopes to create greater opportunities for engagement between cultural groups.
One of the main initiatives that the Multicultural Council plans to take on in order to facilitate the second goal is to create a consolidated calendar of all racial diversity events that will happen in the upcoming week. Therefore, if people are interested in going to an Asian event put on by the Asian American Student Association, they can access the calendar to find all relevant details pertaining to the event without necessarily having to be part of that community or friends with the board members of AASA. This calendar will be one of the many steps that GUSA will take in order to create greater cross-cultural interactions and to engage the larger Georgetown community in the multicultural community.
I consider my racial and international identity to be one of my most prominent identities in my life and extremely pertinent to my Georgetown experience. When I came to Georgetown, I joined AASA because that is what I knew and was familiar with. However, as my time at Georgetown continued and as I grew as a person, I started to branch out and attend other cultural events. Being on the executive board of Women of Color helped me become part of other racial communities at Georgetown and broadened my horizons. In fact, I would encourage everyone to attend different types of cultural events just so that they can interact with at least one community they are not a part of or familiar with. Not only is there something that we can all learn from each other, these events also offer very interesting programming, often accompanied by good food. While attending one of these events may take an hour of time, it could open up a whole new experience.
Eng Gin Moe is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. This is the final appearance of NEW IN TOWN in the guide this semester.