VCU community members are fortunate to be a part of a growing global community that learns from one another as we learn about ourselves. For season two, episode two of Questions, Commons and Concerns, VCU students share aspects of their heritages and personal family histories that all add to the diverse culture of our Ramily.
Joseph Koroma: Welcome to Questions, Commons and Concerns from VCU University Student Commons and Activities. I am your host, Joseph Koroma.
Koroma: Our University is known universally for its diversity. Many students cite this as one of the very reasons they chose to apply and attend. Home to more than 31,000 students, the VCU community is one that embraces all of its members by celebrating the differences between us. We use these differences as lessons and that allows us to grow towards the concept of becoming a better global citizen. In this way, VCU students are exposed to a whirlwind of languages, stories and traditions. I’ll let them tell you more:
:: I am from Ghana, West Africa and our culture is mainly built around family and, you know, being nice to whatever and being accepting, you know
:: I come from a less diverse nation, Norway, and we have not had, we don’t have the history you have at all. With the slavery and all that. And I am so grateful to all the people that have fought for rights and I just hope the fight continues.
:: The Filipino community was, like, really important to me for a while being in college, so I spent a lot of time with them and their families, and they are really big with family and their gatherings, like, they’ll spend a lot of time together. Um, so I really enjoy that.
:: The Martin Luther King Jr. one where they have the candles out there and they’re talking. I thought that was like really beautiful and significant of that day and it was just very memorable for me to see.
:: It was interesting seeing how Mexicans celebrate Christmas and how it’s like inspired by Catholicism. They have a bunch of different traditions and stuff like that. Um, like kids go out into the streets and they do like these like really cute parades where they have like, um, it’s all influenced by like the nativity scene. But I guess it was interesting seeing like how, um, I guess how they take European things, kind of like the idea of Christmas obviously isn’t native to the Americas, um, and kind of like roll with it and incorporate their own sort of like style to it.
:: Respect is a huge thing in my culture. Like, if it’s elderly people, young people we say please after everything. So, I speak Twi, which is a Ghanaian dialect, so sometimes I have to translate, like, I say please after literally everything and, in English, it sounds funny, but in Ghanaian culture it sounds good. So, respect is a huge thing.
:: I really admire just being able to go back into history and see how far the black culture, well the black community has come, and it makes me excited to, like, see how far we can go from there on.
:: So, I feel like for me, I like learning about other people’s cultures because it makes me understand where they’re coming from and then like their lifestyle and how different everything is compared to my own culture or the American culture and everything else. And it’s like it’s kind of cool because psychologically everybody is different and that’s because of the way you grew up, the way your parents raised you and like your culture.
Koroma: In addition to celebrating differences by learning more about the world, and embracing the concept of being a global citizen, many members of the VCU community also recognize the importance of learning about themselves. Our campus is filled with people who are constantly searching for answers, and those answers aren’t just limited to quizzes or final exams. Instead, they are learning who their family is, where they come from and how these elements influence who they are and who they want to be.
:: I have looked back into my history. Um, I have seen like a lot of archives of like my great great great grandfather. Um, we talk a lot about that in my family. I have lots of pictures. My grandma always tells me stories about that so I think it’s always interesting. And I think everybody should definitely, definitely look back into their history.
:: Someone looked up my last name and traced it back for me, which was a cool experience but I have never looked into a lot of that history, personally.
:: ‘Cause, like, I’m white, and, like, I am so sorry to say that, but like I didn’t even learn about, like, what whiteness meant until I got to college. So there was no cultural thing that happened in my family besides like the regular consumer Christmas and Halloween and stuff like that.
:: There’s some of it that’s kind of lost because of like colonization in Mexico so like there’s part of my family history that we just don’t know about, um, but from what I have learned about it, I’m very interested in it.
:: As far as like my family’s background and lineage, so I was born in Ghana. Um, came to the U.S. when I was 10 years old, so I am very familiar with my own culture.
:: I have personally tried to do a lot of digging and I would ask my parents and, um, I know up to like my great grandparents and stuff, but I mean, like, that’s just part of the history of our country. Um, you know, like, we can’t really, it’s hard to, like, trace back some of our own personal roots.
:: I have been like wanting to do those DNA tests things to figure out exactly what my background is. Like I said, I do not know anything about my family ties.
:: My grandma recently did something through ancestry.com to kind of look back at we’ve done or like where my family has been from. Ah, she kind of found like, she thought she was one thing but we’re actually um, my family is from Sicily, Italy.
:: My family we immigrated, or they immigrated from Ethiopia, so a lot of Ethiopians we take pride in our blackness and, you know, being proud of where we came from.
Koroma: At times it can be easy to miss just how rich in cultures our university is. VCU community members are fortunate to be a part of a growing global community that learns from one another as we learn about ourselves. Hopefully, as we expand our world views through the stories and traditions of others, VCU will continue to be a place where all those who come to better themselves will be embraced.
Koroma: This has been another installment of Questions, Commons and Concerns from VCU University Student Commons and Activities. Thank you for listening.