One of the most powerful results of participating in the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program is often an erosion of previously held stereotypes. Living in another country and interacting with “the other” allows us to make judgments based on our own experiences rather than messages we receive in the media. Rishali Srivastav, an Indian student studying retail management at Whatcom Community College, shares one example of how her own stereotypes shifted as a result of getting to know individuals from her neighboring country.
Before coming to the U.S., I always wondered how I would communicate with others and make friends, as all my CCI colleagues would be from different parts of the world. In the beginning I felt nervous interacting with other CCI students, especially with the students from Pakistan. I came here with a different mindset about Pakistani people. Before coming to the U.S., I had many stereotypes about Pakistanis due to the political disputes and lack of trust between the two countries.
I thought Pakistanis might not be friendly toward Indians due to the strained relationship between our countries and governments. Initially, I starting talking with them in a very reserved way, but eventually I started being friendly with them, and I realized that there is no or very little difference between us. My perceptions turned out to be wrong. Additionally, my friendship with Pakistani students in NWCCI changed my thinking completely about the Indo-Pak conflict. My best friends here are Pakistani. We spend a lot of time helping each other in different ways and sharing Indo-Pak culture. During the winter break, I got a chance to spend most of my time with the Pakistanis and our friendship grew even stronger. I realized that the saying “never judge a person without knowing about him/her” is so true. I wish that the people who live in these two countries including the governments could instead of pointing out the differences and creating conflicts bring peace by celebrating our similarities.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the student bloggers.