Before I left for Washington, D.C. this past August, I was asked to write a blog post reflecting on my perceptions of my own views and identity and more importantly how these views and identity impact my perceptions of others and worldview. Before leaving for my semester away, I thought I was fairly set in my beliefs, values, and worldview. Looking back on my experiences over these past four months, it has become clear that I was not as certain as I thought, as I have realized many of my beliefs shift while away studying and learning in a new place with new people. This past semester I was challenged to think and view situations in new ways that I had not considered before. I was exposed to new types of people, new ideas, and new experiences that I probably would not have had exposure to without this experience. Not that I did not consider myself to be before, but I find myself to be more accepting of individuals with differing beliefs and identities than I was before I left. More so, I now believe that my own identity has a significantly greater influence on the way that I view others and the world. Talking with classmates and coworkers about their life experiences gave me greater insight and understanding into how people develop their opinions and worldviews. More specifically, there were several instances this past semester where I was able to apply my race, gender, social class, and Florida roots to situations with my peers doing the same. Coming from many diverse backgrounds, it was quickly easy to see how we all formed different conclusions on different topics. Having this experience helped me to develop a greater level of acceptance and understanding knowing that one’s background and life experiences dramatically influence his or her beliefs. Looking back on the past four months I think about all of the wonderful experiences I had, the great people I was able to meet and spend time with, and the quality learning experience that I was given. I am beyond grateful for the generosity of both Rollins and American University in helping me make this truly life-changing experience a reality.
Picture: American University Quad