One of the most significant experiences I’ve had attending the University of Oregon is the culture shock. Eugene, OR is populated by a majority of Caucasian people. I never realized how different cities and states can be. Back home, I grew up in the Bay Area. In high school, I learned how diverse the Bay Area really is and I was more thankful and blessed to grow up in such a beautiful place. Coming to Eugene, I realized I had been in my own bubble. Then it popped.
I had never fully experienced what being a minority is like. Back home in my group of best friends, we are all different nationalities. Here, I stick out in the cloud of white. I am the small black bird that you notice in the sky soaring on its own…until I found my flock. One incident that has happened to me is my last name, Nguyen. There have been many times where I say my last name, and I’m asked to spell it. It’s obvious that many have never heard of that last name before–at least here.
I’m also very thankful that the University makes an effort for Diversity Inclusion on campus. I am a part of my school’s Hawaii Club and Kalapu Pasifika, the Polynesian club. I attend other events hosted by other multicultural groups on campus. However, I notice that sometimes, they are all I hang out with.
I admit I have more colored friends than Caucasian friends. Is this wrong of me? There’s that saying that you usually hang out with those who are similar to you because they get you. They know how you live and have similar values to your own. Or in most cases, you feel safer and more at home with them. I don’t think I’m necessarily wrong but I do think I can make more of an effort to make the gap between Caucasian students and students of color smaller.
Being a woman of color in this town made me realize that it’s even more important to own the melanin in your skin. We should be proud of who we are and where we come from. Some may argue about the disadvantages that women face in many industries and even more so, the disadvantages that women of color face. Looking forward into the future, many women of color are making their way into those places that are dominated by other forces. Some of my favorite women of color in different fields are Lana Condor, Michelle Obama, and Jenn Im.
By continuing to own our identities, in the future, we’ll have less of a struggle finding a place for ourselves in this world–no matter what town we may reside in.
If you enjoyed this post, please check out my collaboration with Majesty Digital, an online digital publication which features Women of Color and their stories. I highly encourage you to share your story because every story is worth hearing! Without discussion, there is no progress. Let me know what you think!