Learning from Difference

Increased globalization and enhanced digitization are bringing people from different backgrounds and parts of the world much closer. Please describe what you have learned as a result of meaningfully engaging with someone different from you. (75 – 150 words)

In making friends, the differences in demographics and socioeconomic backgrounds between others and myself is very far from my mind. In general, I make friends based on which poor souls laugh at my jokes.

Seriously though, one of my best friends is a first generation Chinese immigrant. She comes from a life that is, demographically, much different from mine. She speaks Chinese at home, eats Chinese foods (including Stinky Tofu!), and is very involved with all things Chinese. Conversely, I speak English at home, eat predominantly American food, and never fail to salute the flag every morning. These differences didn’t stop us from becoming close friends, however. We found other common interests, like a love of traveling and a passion for competitive swimming. We became such good friends that she actually invited me to travel throughout China with her to visit her extended family and friends. I had so many great experiences with her in China—it is definitely a trip I will never forget. Even though she has left for college, we remain very good friends; she has even invited me to take another trip to China with her!

So as clichéd as it may sound, I think what I learned from our friendship is that differences are far less important than common interests and experiences.