One of Rider’s selling points to any incoming undergraduate is its diversity. It even has a Center for Diversity and Inclusion, but I don’t believe it’s something we, as students, realize.
We may hear in conversation students speaking different languages but we never give it a second thought. A majority of us don’t sit down to take the time to interact with those from different cultures, if they aren’t already in our friend group. That’s not to say people are snobby and refuse to sit with those who are not the same as them, but it’s become weird to sit down with someone and say, “Tell me about your culture.” One student decided she was going to take the time to interview eight diverse Rider students and hear their stories.
Junior musical theatre major, Patrice Hrabowskie wrote and directed a short film documentary entitled “Where I’m From.” The project was supported by the Tapestry organization whose mission statement is, “A blending of cultures: where we’re from, where we are and where we’re going.”
In addition to her own hard work, Hrabowskie was aided by the experienced Rider communications professor, Jay Stern, who produced over 30 short films himself. With all of this support, Hrabowskie was able to create a visual tapestry of some of Rider’s various cultures.
Her subjects identified as African-American, Sicilian, Italian, Puerto-Rican, Mexican, Nigerian, Indian and Israeli. When the interviewees spoke, it wasn’t on the behalf of their entire ethnicity, but their personal experiences within the culture.
People discussed wedding celebrations, food, the pursuit of higher education and mental health. It was evident in the film that we as human beings have more similarities than differences. That is not to say that we are all the same and are not beautiful individuals. It is a point that, in our times of celebration, our social gatherings and even our struggles, we are not alone.
For example, an interesting detail was the use of rice in each culture. A majority of the subjects explained how integral rice is to almost every dish they eat.
Another common point was the festivities of each of the weddings in their cultures. Each ceremony was different in how the couples recited their vows, but each reception was described as a lavish party celebrated by family and friends.
The last topic discussed was mental health, a very prevalent matter in today’s society that often affects college students. It was amazing to see how each culture as a whole swept the whole matter under the rug. This is not to say every culture does this when it comes to mental health, but many of the subjects felt as if mental health was ignored by their culture as a whole.
Many of the interviewees were either direct descendants or closely related to immigrant family members. Those who had direct relationships with immigrant family members said they didn’t have time to be depressed, there was too much work for them to do.
I enjoyed the film and saw it as an inspiring piece of artwork. It provokes the viewer to want to get to know his or her neighbor better and even become more in touch with his or her own culture. Although 20 minutes is not enough time to experience everyone’s life and culture, it is enough to give someone a preview and push he or she to do their own research.
Freshman film major