Talk, embrace differences
By Itak Moradi
Sept. 13, 2011 1:53 a.m.
I may have dropped economics on the first day of class, but luckily, I retained one useful thing: the matrix for input and output. Like much in life, college conforms to this principle.
And like the vitality of the economy, who you are when leaving college depends on recognizing that one’s effort is one’s yield. What you can gain here and what you can contribute to others depend on a simple task ““ talking to people.
Learn about them ““ how they live, how they used to live and their opinions.
“Industries” demand each other’s output while supplying each other’s input, an effective model for both economics and humanism. Our effort to familiarize ourselves with different people and different lifestyles renders perspectives that can enable progress in the world.
The progress we make as individuals and the progress we make as a society should not be seen as separate.
So supply your views to others and demand theirs, and our environments can become more objective, more motivating and more empathetic. UCLA is a fantastic avenue for the above, as it both fosters different opinions and tries to make respect a standard.
Studying at a university is one of the few times we’ll find ourselves in a beautiful microcosm, as if someone spooned out little bits from all over the world and served them between Gayley Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. Name a religion, hobby, ethnicity, lifestyle or organization, and you’ll find some manifestation of it here.
I’m not simply talking about meeting new people while joining a club or a sport. There is a depth to getting to know people that transcends everyday interactions, and requires genuine interest and respect from both sides.
But this is where the trusty model finds its place of both fulfillment and potential loss. Despite how diverse UCLA is, it isn’t very hard to maintain the circles built during the chapter before our arrivals. It can be difficult to overcome anxiety or stereotypes, or overwhelming to talk to people that just seem too different.
Nonetheless, I’m beginning the first of my last three quarters, and I assure you that your days here will fade away quickly. I’m only left with what I have gained, intellectually and culturally, because even the memories will gray over time.
So whether you’re a freshman or a senior, strive to meet people shockingly different than you. Engage in uncomfortable conversations. Attend events for no particular reason at all ““ especially ones organized by your peers.
Don’t scoff at people, their appearances or their beliefs. You’re only hurting yourself more.
And by all means, travel. I would have loved to study abroad while here, but even though I didn’t get the chance to enroll, I still visited several countries over the past few years. It is always worthwhile to try and experience how other people live, no matter what you sacrifice to save money.
I went to Iran to visit family this summer, and the energy and warmth of a people living under an oppressive government was inspiring. Every day I was enlightened and thankful, but I’m probably most grateful for the days I was disturbed.
Those were the days I had the most insight into experiences I can still only imagine.
The misconceptions about so many different types of people around the world is disheartening at best, but utterly damaging at worst, because ignorance breeds hate, crime and war.
But you’re reading this because you’re in a place that breeds tolerance instead of ignorance, and respect instead of fear.
So take advantage and learn different lifestyles and struggles. Later in life, you can both use and share this intellectual wealth. I hope people from my generation will do good for this world, will choose paths that will benefit something beyond their own lives.
I think there are many obstacles in the way of our “economy” reaching its vitality ““ things much like unawareness, or snark or even extremist politics.
But I also think that we are in positions to change the game if we understand one another better, if we recognize the true interconnectedness of the world.
You can’t divide the input from the output.