Going to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor campus is always a bittersweet trip for me. On one hand, I’m always in awe at the big, beautiful buildings and the maize-and-blue atmosphere that is bountiful at every street corner. I’m slightly jealous of the older-looking buildings and courtyards that slightly resemble a Hogwarts-ian utopia, and the myriad of quaint, quirky shops that line the streets. It’s such a different atmosphere from what we’re used to here at Dearborn, and I always come back a bit confused, and slightly curious as to what it would actually feel to attend school in Ann Arbor.
But when I return to Dearborn, to MY campus, and to my smaller community, I always realize something. Sure, we don’t have that type of architecture or liveliness at every corner of our campus community. We don’t have the resonating ‘Go Blue’ at the mouth of every individual, but we don’t need all of those things to have a thriving, beautiful community of students on campus. Of course it would be helpful to have all of the exact resources, amenities, and spirit that the Ann Arbor campus has, but we simply have to accept that we don’t.
We’re a smaller campus, with oftentimes, limited resources, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that life and opportunities on this campus are limited. Our campus may be small, but when you really think about what it means, it’s pretty impressive. That means that I’m not just another face in the crowd in the sea of students in my classes. When my Statistics professor hands our exams back, he knows who I am.
“Sanchez,” he calls, as he walks up to my desk to give me my exam, without the aid of a teaching assistant, or a roll call. He just knows my face, and along with it, my capabilities and my achievements in his class. When I walk by my History professor in the hall, he smiles and pulls me aside, and asks how I’m doing in my classes, because he’s genuinely interested in my education.
When I’m walking past the University Center, I walk by a crowd of people and wave ‘hi’ to them. I know a few of them from some student organizations I’m a part of, and some classes we’re in together. The smallness of this community is not a hindrance on the development of my identity on campus; it’s a quality of campus that I’ve learnt how to navigate and use towards my advantage.
Perhaps one of my favorite parts about this school is its diverse student life. We have hundreds of students from different international backgrounds, and by interacting with each other on campus, we all create this meshed, unified community of different individuals. This is a campus where I can have friends with so many different nationalities, and genuinely appreciate and learn about diversity. There’s acceptance, and strives towards inclusiveness, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. I’m proud that we can all interact with each other with such openness and compassion in our daily lives, and not be bothered or hindered by apparent differences. This is such a special quality of our campus community, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.
I have to admit that I never used to really take a part of all of the opportunities on campus, or really appreciate the uniqueness that our school exhibits. When I was a freshman, I genuinely had a bit of disdain for the community. I thought that this school lacked the energetic and lively environment I so longed for and desired, and only saw in Ann Arbor. But then, I slowly grew more involved with student organizations and truly met inspiring people who showed me that this school isn’t as lackluster as I thought. Sure, we can all agree that there are issues and problems that do need to be resolved on campus.
There always are. But now, I can honestly say that I am proud of this school and what it represents. Fancy buildings and school spirit are great, but we can still have something great without them.