October 28, 2008
A bald-headed black man strides into the meadow and stands before 57 students lined shoulder to shoulder.
“If you’re satisfied with life, step forward. If not, step back.”
Fifty-seven students take a step.
“If your parents are divorced, step back. If they’re happy, step forward. If you don’t know, stay put”
Forty students step. The rest stand still.

Although I missed the opening dance of senior year, I learned important lessons by attending MAR, Culver’s weekend Multicultural Awareness Retreat. From cultural mash-ups to role-playing skits to the “Starting Line” game, 57 students and 15 faculty learned about living in a diverse world.

When “Starting Line” began, we closed our eyes, and responded to questions about our social and economic background, our faith and sexuality. We stepped forward or backward when we believed our answers were social advantages or disadvantages. After 40 questions, still blindfolded, I figured I was in the middle.

But I wasn’t. I was third from front. I’d never realized my life was so good, at least compared to my friends’. We were told to look at who was in front of us, who was behind us, who was beside us. How different we are from each other, but how much we are the same.

Culver’s 800 students come from 26 countries and 37 states, but the University of Michigan will be far larger, more diverse, more challenging. I will bring the acceptance from MAR to U-Mich community; I will be part of the rich diversity of campus life.

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