Oct. 3, 2018
The young woman came in dressed in a beautiful gown with a smile on her face. After she visited with her dad, we all wished her well in her bid for homecoming queen at her high school and sent her off into the night. The following day, she arrived to tell us she had won and we curtsied and congratulated her. When her father was discharged, we cheered, exchanged phone numbers and hugs. Such is the extended family of strangers you build when spending days in an ICU.
We’ve shared stories, food, prayers, tears, hopes and dreams. When you’re here, all races, religions, languages and backgrounds fall away and it’s just a room filled with people supporting people. Compassion, sympathy and humanity replace all the differences the eye can see. In a really scary place, it’s actually quite beautiful.
If only that kind of peace and understanding happened everywhere. If only our differences were celebrated by all instead of being feared by some. To quote an 80s tune by Depeche Mode, “people are people.”
It reminded me of another note I wrote about observing a diverse community simply eating lunch at the Flint Farmer’s Market. Coincidentally, I wrote it two years ago during homecoming, which we’re once again celebrating this week. This year’s grand marshal, Ernest Green, civil rights activist, MSU alumnus and member of the Little Rock Nine, exemplifies the courage it takes to challenge norms and fight for inclusion.
Inclusion has long been an important part of MSU’s land-grant mission. For example, the university was a leader in integrating college football. Watch the inspirational video, narrated by Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy, in the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Game changers, to learn how 20 brave players and a forward-thinking coach not only won a national championship, but forever changed the game.
Liz Schondelmayer, a senior majoring in political science and media and information, had a chance this summer to experience the diverse community of Flint firsthand while participating in an internship with a non-profit. Liz is an incredibly smart young woman, who I’ve been mentoring as part of the Social Science Scholars program since her freshman year and I’m very proud of her. She’s insightful, bright and open to new experiences that broaden her world. Read her STUDENT VIEW: How not to be a voluntourist, to learn about her experience and read the seven rules she lived by to keep herself “in-check” during her 12 weeks there.
Eventually, Liz would love to blend her majors to be able to create social change through video storytelling. Storytelling is an extremely powerful way to learn about our world.
Alexandra Hidalgo is assistant professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures and the co-director of The Documentary Film Lab. She always knew she would tell stories and found her calling with documentary film. Read her FACULTY VOICE: The kinship of storytelling, to learn more about her fascinating work.
There is such beauty in diversity. Imagine how boring the world would be if we were exactly the same. That’s one thing I love about Spartans – we come in as many different versions as you can imagine. We are people who seem very different but share a common bond in that we bleed green. Because of our differences, we can learn, teach and collaborate to make big differences in this world. People are people and Spartans are game changers. #SpartansWill.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner