The quality of Rice's academic life and the Residential College System are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What personal perspective would you contribute to life at Rice? (500 word limit)
Christmas dinners at my grandma's house have never consisted of just the traditional pecan pie and mashed potatoes. Even prior to my birth, my family had a split Christmas, with one side of the kitchen stockpiled with dishes of green bean casserole and corn and the other with traditional Filipino dishes like lumpia and chicken adobo. Food has always made me feel more connected to both my Filipino and American cultures. Every time I've sat at my grandma's scratched wooden table to dig into a plate of pancit while my cousin ate a slice of honey-glazed ham, I was reminded of my blended heritage. My childhood exposure to Filipino food also made me more open to the cultures of others. From day one I've had to accept that there's more than just one type of food or one type of language. Even before I started kindergarten, I had grown accustomed to hearing my grandmother yelling at one of her siblings in Tagalog over the phone. So while my four-year-old peers had stared at our pre-k teacher like she had grown a second head when she started our rudimentary Spanish unit, I picked up on it quick. I would bring home Spanish language coloring sheets and try to teach my parents Spanish. I was so excited I must have told my poor dad that "manzana" was Spanish for apple hundreds of times.
My curiosity regarding the different languages and cultures of the world didn't stop there. Over these past thirteen years of school, I've met a myriad of ethnically diverse students. Some of my best friends have been from Thailand, from Nepal, from Jordan. Although some of my friends have shied away from food from other countries, I'm always eager to try something new. For example, last year during my friend's graduation party, several of my friends turned their nose up at the Thai food offered to them. Even though my friend was polite in response to this, it was obvious that she was slightly offended. I made a point to grab extra of everything in front of her even though I had never tried any of it before. While I mostly did that to be supportive of my friend, I also did it just because I was excited to experience her culture through the likes of jook and other dishes. I'm a firm believer in the use of food as a bridge between cultures and people, something that's evident in the range of food I eat.
Food isn't just something consumed to gain energy, just as language isn't something Instead, these things are indicators of any one person's identity, culture, or upbringing. Someone who dines on Twinkies and Doritos is going to have a much different culture than someone who eats dried squid and seaweed for a snack. I believe I can impact the students of Rice by encouraging them to be open-minded about all aspects of culture and leading by example, fork and knife in hand.