Sunday. The final Sunday before the whole system rotates again. Before classes start again. Enjoy every minute while it lasts.
Yesterday was the department's annual beginning-of-the-year party. This was when everyone gets to know who is who. So I brought a dish to pass, and someone in the department actually liked it so much that she asked for the recipe, which I emailed to her afterward.
I notice that the attendance yesterday was very diverse. The department is populated with people from varying backgrounds: aside from local citizens, students come from the Philippines (me), India, China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Germany, Russia, Argentina, Mexico, among others. I guess Linguistics ic actually a field that promotes diversity, since you can't help but interact with people from other places in the world when you study different languages.
This is what I like about my school. It is very diverse. There are people from everywhere. And I know that they have different characteristics, but that just makes it more interesting.
In my last post, I commented about smell. About how some people may smell more than others. I am afraid that some people may misunderstand that as me being a racist. I don't think so. One cannot please everybody. And everyone has different traits that certainly will bug someone out there. Simply noting the fact that a person from that part of the world have a peculiar smell doesn't make me a racist. But if that fact prevents me from dealing with them, and if that makes me think that I am above them, then that is racism.
I do not consider myself nor the collection of the people from where I come from as superior. I could mention tons of traits that are typical of a Filipino that I am not in agreement with. And if I scrutinize other peoples, of course there are traits that they have that I may not agree with. But does that stop me from interacting with them? No. If we envisioned a world where everyone is the same, then that is just a dystopian robotic state, where everyone is the same, where everyone likes everyone because there simply is no diversity. I don't think that would be ideal.
Last night, at the party, I was able to talk to different people who have been to different places. I heard of different interesting cultural practices, like the horse-racing in Kyrgyzstan whose outcome somehow affects the marriage arangement, like the domestic practices of middle-class families in India, and the exotic sausages of the Netherlands and Germany. To some people of course these are different. But should these cause the others to gravitate away from these people? That, my dear readers, is racism. I guess the main point I want to state here is that one must be accepting of the differences of the many different peoples out there.
Anyway, enough of my philosophical ranting.
Last night, as I was on my way home, driving along Main St., I saw the hordes of college undergrads drinking, walking, clutching their beer in front of the houses, having a good time, late at night. It's back, that time of the year. I wonder why alcohol is such a big thing here in the US. I spent a couple of months in Prague, and the Czech Republic has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world, and yet they do not flaunt their beer, they do not act wild and walk the streets at night breaking bottles. Here, it seems that people just lose a sense of civility once they get hold of the drink. Today, the morning after, I saw quite some broken bottles and shards of glass in the street corners, obviously the result of last night's happy hours. I am not saying that Prague never had problems with the drinkers, but they surely are able to keep their senses more than what I observed here. They could drink and still be civil, why, plenty of people actually buy a 0.5 litre can of beer, walk out the street, ride the tram, and do their everyday activities and still be civilized. Here in the US taking an open bottle in the street is illegal.
Again, something to ponder about.