Goal: Increase my understanding of different cultures and develop an opinion on “hot topic” social issues

Throughout my time at the University of Illinois, EOL 199 has been one of my all-time favorite academic experiences. During the course of this class, we built a community within the 15 of us, discussed many different “off limits” topics and learned about issues that may face communities. Noting that this course is intended to prepare residential advisers for serving as para-professional staff, I was also given an opportunity to develop a community plan. Much of the timing in my plan was based off of combining cross-cultural needs and ways to bring communities back together after potentially dividing conflicts.

Thanks to our instructor and facilitator, we openly discussed different identities of persons, the challenges associated with each identity, along with how to properly communicate. At times, I was caught off guard by what some “acceptable” vocabulary was, as I did not realize certain slang phrases were insulting. It was through this semester of open discussions that allowed me to not only feel prepared to be a Resident Advisor, but more importantly to appreciate and embrace diversity.

Prior to these candid discussions, I had never fully realized how hurtful words can be to some people due to historical reasons, noting how I was not part of a minority at the time. Also, expressing and challenging my personal viewpoints helped me get a sense of myself. Self-understanding and a willingness to consider a different way of doing things is truly what has improved my ability in working around and responding to “hot topic” social issues. The only regret I have of this course is that it is only available to persons who are selected to be RAs or are alternates. Without this course, I believe it would have taken me much longer to develop as a leader and discover who I truly am as a person.