Take time to appreciate peers’ stories

In my public relations writing class, the professor told students to interview each other and write a brief profile on the peer we’d chosen at random. Before the assignment, I didn’t have much interest in the individuals in my class.

Everyone seemed so “average.” But a triplet, several singers and an adventurer who’d backpacked through Hawaii at age 16 all proved me wrong.

Triumph, strength and hope had brought these characters to life from the profiles we’d written. I was surprised to find that lifesavers, accident survivors and record-breaking athletes accompanied me in class. And there are so many other extraordinary ordinary people surrounding us on campus everyday.

All throughout last semester – my first at the University of Miami – I was a transfer student stuck with first-day-of-school jitters. It was intimidating to encounter such active student life, and I at first found it overwhelming. This semester I have been able to find comfort in my new Hurricane skin. It’s almost as if I have been given a new pair of glasses; I now have the capability of seeing all of the opportunities that surround me.

I’ve started paying attention to the signs advertising events in the bathroom stalls. I’ve noticed the causes that people represent on their T-shirts, and I’ve learned about what certain groups on campus were petitioning for. I have made myself approachable and opened myself up to the possibilities of meeting more fascinating people. But even from a distance, I’m already finding them.

I love to people watch. Sitting at Starbucks, listening to all of the languages being spoken around me and observing all of the skin tones as they fill the walkways is one of my favorite pastimes. I feel as though I have visited countries I’ve never been to and felt experiences I’ve never lived.

I have a weird obsession with humanity and being at this university – filled with people from all over the world – has not helped this obsession simmer. Not that I want it to.

We can never know it all, so it’s important to remain teachable and learn what we can from those with whom we cross paths. That’s why I’ll never lose my fascination with the human experience.


Hana Abdulla is a junior majoring in public relations.