When you become a tour guide, you gain another title: storyteller. I tell stories about Gannon, but I also hear new stories about people – what students have done, what they are doing now and their future plans. As I hear these stories, I learn more about the people who are touring.
Recently I gave a tour to 30 students all at once. They were refugees from Nepal who live in foster care in the Pittsburgh area. Scholarships are available to refugees in the school system, so the group came to look at Gannon University. Most of them spoke some broken English. A few were rather proficient, and they were my translators to the rest.
Though some of them might have not fully understood what I was talking about, I could tell they were excited to be on a college campus. Their interests were all across the board when it comes to majors. They wanted to be engineers, accountants, nurses and doctors. These kids had true aspirations for higher education.
Unfortunately, I heard some bad stories while we were on tour. Some of the chaperones told me of the social issues many of these kids faced. The kids from Nepal, while small in number, get ridiculed by other students. They get picked on and even physically harmed by other students because of where they are from. I know this is not a new thing, and people have been bullied based on their history before, but I was never this close to it.
After all that these kids have been thorough, they still have the drive to continue their education. That’s how I know they are going to be OK. They already have the tools to fight adversity, and education can give them even more.
This is one of the experiences Gannon has given me. If I went back in time and told the high school version of me that I would need 30 Nepalese refugees, I wouldn’t buy it. One of the things I admire about Gannon is its recent push for the understanding of globalization. We as Americans are not alone in this world. Regardless of race, economic status or political party, we need to see that there is a world outside our borders.
The internet has made our planet smaller, and social medial has given people voices they never had before. The world is talking to the rest of the world. Are you listening?