November has finally arrived and every day I walk through the planty near my apartment and I am always amazed by the amount of multi-coloured leaves that have fallen from the trees. I am on many occasions tempted to run over to the largest and brightest pile, scoop up as many of them as I can and find the nearest person to dump this pile of leaves on.
However, when these situations arise, I constantly have to remind myself that I am an adult and that this is not an appropriate way to behave in public. Although it would be nice to say that this is the only circumstance where I revert back to a child-like state of playfulness, this is in fact only one of a large number of situations.
At first, I was ashamed to admit this to myself and I would have never mentioned it to anyone else that I knew. Being awarded a scholarship based on academic merit and intelligence meant to me that you must remain as dignified and thoughtful as possible. I should be discussing culture, language, psychology and many of the other issues and concepts that we have been delving into in my classes.
My opinion of this was dramatically changed on Tuesday morning. I arrived for my Social Change in the 20th Century in the Transatlantic Community (try saying that quickly and several times in a row). This week our lecture and seminar was on the discussion of migration. The readings that had been assigned for this week were particularly interesting and I was looking forward to some thought- provoking discussion.
However, after ten minutes of discussion, I was thoroughly disturbed by some of the comments that had been expressed. One of the American students in my class was discussing the reading relating to illegal and legal migration of Mexicans into American’s society. After some debate about raising the living standards in Mexico so that many Mexicans would be happy to stay in Mexico or even return back to their country of origin, she stated that if Mexicans returned to Mexico, they would be no-one in America to do the “crappy, low-paying jobs” and “how would I get my food without Mexicans?”.
Do not get me wrong, this is by no means an attack on Americans. This statement was echoed by many of my fellow classmates, who are culturally, ethically and religiously diverse. Yet there were many of my fellow classmates who appeared as taken aback by these statements as I was. For me, it was the sincerity in her voice and the unwavering belief in the ‘us and them’ mentality that shocked me.
It was at this moment that I realised that perhaps rather than discussing these issues and demonstrating all of our own prejudices and ignorance (myself included), we should all run outside and throw leaves at each other. Maybe then when we were all laughing and communicating with the child with-in, we would realise that we are not all that different.
Although this is a very simplistic approach and I in no way think this will solve any of the world’s major issues; it may have granted us all a different perspective and given us just a small, fleeting moment to consider that the right of everyone to experience these simple joys should be high on everyone’s priority list.