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We are Furman

When people first meet Andy Teye ’19, they frequently assume he must be American because he doesn’t have an accent (he’s from Accra, Ghana).

When some people first meet Jai Ryung “Jenny” Lee ’17, they often jump to conclusions, thinking she’s from California (she’s a South Korean raised in Indonesia).

“I’ve been there (to California) once. It was great,” said Lee, an economics major.

During a special Homecoming panel discussion Tuesday in Hartness Pavilion, Teye and Lee shared their diverse perspectives on stereotypes, identity, perceptions, and expectations at Furman as minority students on campus.

“We are Furman,” sponsored by Furman’s Student Diversity Council (SDC), featured the perspectives and stories of 11 student leaders representing a variety of underrepresented racial, religious, cultural, gender, and sexual identities.

“People are often afraid to talk about these things, but a lot of this ties into what ‘home’ means,” said Emma Zyriek ’17, a double major in music and political science and the SDC president.

Featured panelists also included Jose Bailey ’17, Jocelyn Boulware ’17, Nathan Mathai ’17, Kristen Murdaugh ’17, Dov Tennenbaum ’17, Fareeha Abrar ’18, Bradwin Amos ’18, Aishwarya Tripathi ’19, and Junyang Chai ’17.

While some panelists had experienced a variety of challenges, several said they were happy to educate their peers about their cultures and identities when they were genuinely curious and wanted to learn more.

“You don’t learn from people exactly like you,” said Chai, an Asian studies and economics major from Xi’an, China. “You learn from people who are different than you.”

Boulware encouraged students to be active in pursuing positive change. “I’m honored to be a part of the project… of multiculturalism on this campus,” said Boulware, a philosophy major from Chester, S.C.

“Don’t let your conversations end here,” Zyriek told the audience. “Stories are important. Listening is important. Take these stories out into your community.”

Deborah Allen, associate director of student activities for diversity engagement, said she felt honored to know many of the panelists, and admired the student leaders who were able to use their platform to share their own narratives.

“For me, there are two important messages I hope those in attendance were able to take away. One, to understand the importance of seeing yourself reflected in the community you are a part of, and two, that intersectionality is a very real thing.  We are all multi-dimensional beings, and our lived experiences are what make us who we are,” said Allen. “My hope is that this was the beginning of some crucial dialogue surrounding the experiences of our underrepresented students, and how we can work toward a more diverse and inclusive community at Furman.”

 

Last updated November 3, 2016
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director