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viewpoint

A letter for you

| Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Dear fellow Notre Dame peer,

In the nicest way possible, you can do better. 

As soon as I stepped on campus, I felt welcomed and at peace. Notre Dame is my new home. I am incredibly grateful for the people I’ve met, the opportunities I’ve had and the progress I’ve made during my short time here. I truly wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

However, my first year at Notre Dame wasn’t perfect. After a few weeks in, I quickly realized that ND was nothing like my home in South Florida. I lost touch with my Hispanic culture. It was unsettling to come from spending weekends in Miami eating Cuban food with my Puerto Rican family to spending weeks in South Bend where the only Hispanic person I talked to was my randomly assigned roommate from a country in Latin America.

Coming to college, I would’ve never imagined that I could feel so isolated. The best way to describe my situation was feeling too Hispanic to relate to other white students and feeling too Americanized to relate to other Latino students. I felt alone. 

The worst part about my situation wasn’t the fact that there aren’t that many Hispanic students at Notre Dame. It was the fact that I felt like not enough people cared to ask me about my background. I felt like I couldn’t share a part of my identity. It seemed like hardly anyone was fazed by the fact that we were different. 

So here I am, writing this with the intention of encouraging you, the reader, to step outside of your comfort zone. This means asking people of different cultures about their stories, their favorite cuisine, their go-to dance music. At Notre Dame, we are blessed with the opportunity to meet people not only from all over the country, but all over the world. Take advantage of that.

Stepping outside your comfort zone will enrich your short time here. It will allow you to develop new relationships and allow you to be understanding. It will expose you to unique backgrounds and the challenges that students of color face. There are beautiful stories from your fellow peers that are dying to be told. I know I was waiting for the moment to share mine. 

You can learn and grow if you are willing to step outside your comfort zone. Do better. 

Stay mindful,

Sarah Rodriguez

freshman 

Apr. 23

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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