Reaffirming and validating ourselves

The Otter Cross Cultural Center (OC3) at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) hosted their latest Social Dialogues event, centering around understanding the impact of the pandemic on students’ identities on Oct. 13. In addition, they gave tips for how students can support those in their communities. 

The event was held virtually and in-person. As always, the number one rule of attendees, as well as those hosting is to “leave your title at the door,” and engage in the discussion and topic at hand.

Almost two years into the pandemic has given students time to reflect on themselves and one’s background. This time, unlike any other before, has forced individuals to focus mostly on themselves and take a break from their normal routine. 

It made students reflect on various things in their day-to-day life such as professional lives, social lives and hobbies. With this reflection, some discovered new passions for themselves, labels and new routines that benefited them better than before. 

Labels can be thrown around and ties into one’s ethnicity, hobbies, interests or role they play in someone’s life. Labeling oneself comes from what they feel is most important. 

It prompts the question, “who are you and who do you want to be?” Part of this can involve one’s culture and how they were brought up. Stories were shared of those who grew up in a more “strict” and “traditional” type of household, and how that molds a person to think and behave a certain way. 

As people get older, they find out new things about themselves and realize that the set of “norms” that were placed on them may not always be necessary or reasonable. Upholding that is standing by what one thinks of oneself, but also supporting those around them that are trying to do the same. 

Whatever community it may be, people must remember patience and understanding. Not only should it be tolerance for those who label themselves as something different, but additionally offering acceptance. By doing so, this opens up a more comfortable environment to allow others to shine with confidence in who they are and, in turn, allows one to shine themselves.

That is the beauty and freedom that comes with Social Dialogues provided by the OC3. This discussion, in particular, helped students open up a conversation about themselves. It also opens up a sense of vulnerability within the conversation and a time of reflection once engaged in the topic. 

By having these discussions and dialogues, it normalizes talking about feelings and one’s role in not only a school setting, but communities close to them.

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