Within a residence hall, especially within Texas State University, diversity plays a major role. Everyone is unique and dissimilar from one another, ranging in height, weight, age, race, religious belief, lifestyle, and even study habits. It is nearly impossible to find two people who live the exact same way. Because of this, resident assistants must be aware of diversity and embrace it, exemplifying that everyone has a different culture, but it is because of these differences that life is interesting and full of color.
Lifestyle includes many aspects, but for a diversity experience, I chose to eat something different. On Thursday, November 10, I attended the University Honor Program’s Multicultural Dinner at 6:00pm and experienced a variety of different textures and flavors. A particular diner, I felt uncomfortable and nervous as I watched the table fill with unusual looking dishes that smelled odd and looked even more strange. Most of the names I could not pronounce and I had never tried or even heard of most that was provided. I felt out of place as everyone around me wafted in the smells exclaiming that they couldn’t wait to try all of the delicious food.
Honestly, I wanted to go home and eat something “normal”.
Once the greeting was delivered and everyone was told to dig in, I grabbed a plate and put a small serving of every dish on my plate. I was scared and didn’t want to try anything, but I pushed myself and uncomfortably tried everything offered. It seemed as if everything was slimy and smelly and nothing seemed to be the right color. There were soggy red tortilla chips covered with some kind of liquid and green pasta sitting in a bowl of green liquid. I tried cookies with bananas in them and rolled up tortillas with different meats in them. Everything was unusual and frightening. With a plate full of terror and a cup full of a juice blend, I sat at the table and began with something that was a little more familiar: a pizza roll.
Although a little spicy, the pizza roll was okay, an interesting blend of tomato, bread, and pepperoni. After finishing the roll, I began to try the more unusual foods. I tried the green pasta, but it tasted unbearable, so I moved on to another dish. Unfortunately, everything I tried made my stomach churn and my mouth twist as I tried to chew and swallow calmly. Even the juice blend tasted odd and made washing down the food even more uncomfortable. Because everything was so different, it all seemed off to me and I didn’t like anything.
Finally, I had finished most of my food and was ready for dessert! I took a bite of the banana cookie and tasted an odd arrangement of mushy banana and sugar. It was not pleasing, but I swallowed it down. Afterwards, I tried a bit of chocolate cake that I was excited about. I don’t know what it was exactly, but unfortunately it did not taste like chocolate and I could not bear to eat more of it. Disappointed, I returned to the serving table to see if there was anything better. I tried a different cookie, but found it to be spicy and tried a different juice blend to try to wash the spice away, but the juice tasted incredibly watered down and unappetizing. Everything I put in my mouth made my tongue suffer and plea for no more.
With plates and cups empty, the dinner was coming to a close and Dr. Galloway, the director of the University Honors Program, gave some closing remarks. She thanked everyone who had brought a dish and exclaimed that all of the food was incredibly delicious. She regretted that all the food was gone and couldn’t wait for the next dinner. Everyone in the room clapped and agreed stating that all the food tasted magnificent and smelled heavenly. I put a napkin over my leftovers as I felt ashamed and out of place. I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t liked anything. Everything tasted odd, nothing smelled right, and I was disappointed about everything. Although I was full, I wanted to eat something I was used to just to get all of the unusual tastes out of my mouth. With closing remarks, I threw away my plate and went home.
Although our world is full of diversity and culture, with each person living a different lifestyle and eating different foods, it is human nature to fear those differences and want to avoid any dissimilarities. It was a challenge to force myself to try foods that I had never heard of and I had to push myself to eat something that smelled unusual and looked as if it was unsafe to consume. As a resident assistant, it is my responsibility to respect all the cultures that may reside within my residence hall and I must demonstrate for my residents that cultures may seem frightening and unusual at times, but we should embrace and love them because it’s the differences that add interest to life.