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A reflection, with (about) 20 days left

| Monday, April 29, 2019

When my younger sister applied to colleges last year, she worked hard and saw a lot of success. She was admitted to several great universities, one of them being Notre Dame. During her spring visit here, her enthusiasm for the school was visible — wide-eyed with excitement from the organized activities, it was evident that this place was one of her top choices. The fact that I go here only further influenced her interest in ND, as the two of us have been close for as long as I can remember. 

By the end of her senior year, she narrowed down her choices to two places: Notre Dame and the school she attends now. I talked to her a lot during this time, as she was conflicted in her decision. However, I could never manage to tell her to come to Notre Dame. I thought about why this was for a long time; after all, this school has made me grow intellectually, allowed me to make great friends and helped me get a job that I’m excited for next year. But, with a few weeks left at Notre Dame, I think I finally have an answer as to why I felt that way.

It was being excited to be welcomed into your dorm community but not getting invited to the off-campus party when every other freshman in your section was.

It was wanting to share your experiences with religion but then being questioned and asked if you wanted to become a Catholic.

It was talking about your experiences in a high-poverty, rural area of the country in your freshman seminar and then hearing someone in your class claim that food stamps and the social safety net are useless.

It was seeing other DACA students protest after the presidential election and then seeing their own peers at Notre Dame call for them to be deported on social media.

It was building confidence and becoming outgoing to make new friends but then being subject to subtle racism and stereotyping.

It was believing that your peers were okay with you being a DACA student and then reading “The Statistics on Dreamers are a nightmare” in The Observer, and knowing that while the author was never specific, he was talking about you because you are a dreamer.

It was building friendships with your housekeepers and believing that they were part of the Notre Dame family and then seeing the University do nothing to honor your freshman and sophomore year housekeeper when he died in the parking lot on his way to work.

It was finally being invited to the party and then realizing that you were the only brown person there.

It was coming to the realization that alcohol wasn’t for you — and that was OK — then being called “lame” for not wanting to drink.

It was being the designated driver because you like hanging out with your friends but then unironically being called an Uber driver by people who would say hello to you when they’re sober but forget who you are when you go out.

It was being so excited and happy for your sister and then realizing that you couldn’t tell her to come here because you yourself wonder how much happier you would have been somewhere else.

I know why I didn’t tell her to come here now. Every time I’ve felt like I belong, there’s something else that reminds me that I don’t. And I didn’t want her to feel the same.

Rathin Kacham


April 24

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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