￼Stanford students are widely known to possess a sense of intellectual vitality. Tell us about an idea or an experience you have had that you find intellectually engaging.
In deciding to go to India, I was faced with a conundrum that I had never reckoned with before- how my very passionately held ideals might fit with another society. For some reason I had just assumed that concepts like equality were "universal" ideals- not American ideals. It was within the context of having someone ask me how I would respond to women's devalued status in Indian society. I have always held a strong belief in gender equality, one that I still have now. However, while I was a guest in someone else's country, and in someone else's home, it didn't seem to be my place to question the system. I did not want to offend their hospitality by being overly critical of their way of life, so instead I observed. I quietly measured up my own convictions against contrasting ones to determine which held true, and which fell down. I discovered rationales for things I had never thought could be rationalized- for example, if you believe (as in Hinduism) that in each life you are re-incarnated according to your deeds and learning, if you have a hard lot in life, it is simply so you can learn from it. It is fair. Eventually you will be born with an easier lot. From this perspective, having a hierarchal society and a society of gender inequality can make sense. You are simply learning the lessons you need from fulfilling that role, and it will pass. While this view amazes me, I continue to believe in social and gender equity. Still think that people should be given the same privilege and respect, regardless of gender. However I am less quick to generalize, or condemn belief systems different from me as "wrong". Though it was, and remains very challenging for me to wrap my head around the idea that inequality can be justified, it is a humbling thought, that no society has all the answers.￼Virtually all of Stanford's undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate - and us - know you better.
Dear future roommate,
Hello. I'm really excited about getting to share a room- I would much rather have a room mate than live alone! I hope you don't take things too seriously-I have an absurdist sense of humor, and I laugh a lot. I'm a really positive person- I just don't think it's productive to get depressed...that being said, I'm all about productive. If anything breaks in our room, don't worry, I will fix it. My parents are home-improvement obsessed, and thus I know how to fix/revamp/rewire just about anything. I'm a pro with the spackle. I listen to the radio constantly- NPR, but I can get headphones if it's distracting. I shared a room with my host sister for the first time last year (I lived in India last year, it was my favorite thing I've ever done) and it worked out really well- we're very close. I think she'd describe me as a flexible roommate-I'm really low maintenance. I'm bringing my banjo; you're welcome to play it, or to ask me not to play it in the room, if for some reason you hate banjos. I'm really opinionated, and really ambitious- I want to help the world, and will fiercely defend my ability to do so to the cynics of the world. This doesn't mean I don't respect the beliefs of others though, in fact I think that the only way I can be steadfast in my beliefs is if I'm open to having them challenged with contradictory views. I was raised in the South, so I have all these weird southern expressions that I use. "Nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs" means very nervous. I love to cook- so if there's a dorm kitchen I will probably cook for you (how do you feel about salmon? Carrot ginger soup? Cupcakes?) Looking forward to meeting you, Helen