Coming to Deerfield as a new junior has been both rewarding and difficult. I attended a small school in Montreal for the past five years where class sizes reached a maximum of thirty students, and joining this community has been quite a drastic change.
Attending a small school had its limitations; the smaller student body did not allow for the diversity that Deerfield offers. Not only did all of the students come from Montreal, but most of the students had also attended the same school for up to ten years. This made for a homogeneous student body and few unique life experiences.
Size was not the only limitation; historically, in my hometown, a major source of division has been language. The Francophone and Anglophone communities have literally divided the city in half, the western half being largely Anglophone and the eastern half being largely Francophone. Having grown up speaking French at home, I felt as though language was always a barrier, an obstacle to feeling completely comfortable in school.
Deerfield’s diversity has certainly eliminated this obstacle. Here I am, one of many students whose first language is not English. For me, sharing my experiences with people from a similar background has not only been helpful but also comforting in this new and unfamiliar environment. But might I be benefiting more from interacting with people who have different stories than mine?
The community has so many resources in terms of student diversity. In my short time at the school, I have met students from countless cultural backgrounds, with varying interests and perspectives. I have seen committed musicians, athletes, and actors, all of whom have something unique to offer. However, despite the school’s mosaic of students, I believe that the Deerfield community could benefit so much more from their asset.
I have noticed that many students, myself included, tend to associate with people who have similar interests, and who share the same perspectives. While natural, never reaching out does not necessarily allow us to take advantage of the tremendous diversity here.
By never knowing people who are truly different from us, we lose opportunities to form links that enrich our lives. While people who share experiences similar to ours may be a source of comfort, they do not necessarily allow for growth and development.
However, forming relationships with everyone on campus is simply an impossible task. Moreover, there is no harm in associating with people who share similar experiences; this, in fact, can be the ground for long-lasting and influential relationships. Nevertheless, people who come from different backgrounds or who offer unique perspectives are opportunities we must learn to take advantage of. They are an asset that the Deerfield community offers.
What, I believe, will allow for every student to get the most out of the Deerfield experience is balancing the comfort of similarity and the growth that only comes from exposure to diversity.