You’ve likely heard about the amazing atmosphere and student-centered life that Rice promotes, but I wanted to take a moment to highlight Rice students themselves. As one of the most diverse campuses in the entire United States (racially, financially, religiously, on almost every spectrum you could think of), the intermingling of different cultures, traditions, and lifestyles is a truly wonderful and humbling thing to see. I love that I can sit at a table at Rice and see people different from myself. I love that I don’t just hear my beliefs echoed back at me like a record stuck on a scratch.
I’m challenged. I’m pushed to think harder and more critically about things I used to think were so simple and straightforward. Going to Rice has opened up the world to me in a lot of ways. People always say that college changes you, but I think it’s really the people. The students here are so incredibly intelligent, talented, and unique. There’s always something new to learn, and you feel like you are part of a large supportive community.
I had the opportunity to delve more fully into this community for an assignment in my social psychology class. The idea was to go up to a person that you thought was different from yourself and ask them some very personal questions like, “What’s the saddest thing that’s happened to you?” or “What is the meaning of life?” I’m an introvert at my core, so the idea of walking up to a complete stranger and asking these deep, personal questions scared me. As I was looking around, I spotted a couple that both had their hands resting in their chins, staring directly at each other. It seemed like a pretty intimate moment, so I’m not sure what compelled me to interrupt, but I think I sensed that they would have a good story to tell.
It was a little harder with two people, but it was also interesting to see how they fed off of each other and encouraged responses. Even though I was really scared, I thought the experience was so cool, and I was really moved by what the people I interviewed said. It’s amazing to me that there are so many people around you – people that you pass on the way to class every day – who have these intense, heart-wrenching, powerful stories to tell, and you wouldn’t even know it! I think the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover” was definitely reinforced by the things I discovered during this assignment.
Particularly, I am so amazed by the depth of character and experience that Rice students have. I feel so lucky to live on a campus with these inspiring, thoughtful, and diverse people. Here’s a quote from one of the students I interviewed that I thought was so awesome and relevant to us all: “You can be in a really really hard place and you can have faith that there’s purpose behind it and there’s meaning…It completely changes your mindset and gives you hope for the future. You are strong and you are made for something and [you’re] going to use the pain in that moment for something powerful.”