Opinion

Applying the lessons of Fun Day to all unfamiliar faces

funday.jpg

More than 350 South Floridians with special needs visited the University of Miami campus on Feb. 3 for a daylong event full of activities geared toward bridging the gap between students and their buddies. Photo credit: Lena Mobin

If you were within five miles of campus on Feb. 3, you surely heard the jovial pandemonium of this year’s FunDay, UM’s one-of-a-kind service day that partners students with adults with disabilities from across Miami.

While the day may be for those adults, affectionately dubbed “buddies,” I find it’s typically much more transformative for the students who are unaccustomed to working with people with disabilities, particularly those participating for a club or for service hours for Greek Life.

Many college students spend their time swaddled within the security of their social circle. We like to spend time with those we feel most comfortable with and those most similar to us. We seek people in our clubs, classes and religious groups to befriend, thinking our chances of forming connections will be increased by the quantity of superficial similarities we share. However, FunDay has an incredible capacity to debunk this myth.

At one point during the event, my buddy approached a student who seemed intimidated, unable to predict the behavior of this unfamiliar person. My buddy put forth his hand for a fist pound. A wave of relief washed over the student as he reciprocated it.

The student saw that my buddy simply wanted to make a connection with him. They didn’t share an ethnicity, age, language or disability, but my buddy didn’t care. He just wanted to connect with someone.

As I watched people of every color, language and gender intermix and the boundaries melt away, I concluded that it’s time we take a page from the buddies.

If they have the space in their hearts for those different from them, why shouldn’t we?

While, of course, our admiration and friendships among those similar to us are entirely valid, we miss out on a potential goldmine by residing safely at home in our little bundle of familiar traits. Remaining open to all kinds of people can add incredible dimension to our lives.

And this pattern is a dichotomy. Those we loathe often bear the most similarities to us. Many of us recoil at the speech of our current president – conversational and rife with grammatical flaws – despite its familiarity and similarity to our own speech.

Bottom line: we are not the gold standard. We do not contain every good trait and are not void of every bad trait. If we assess people based on the extent to which they are carbon copies of ourselves, we will have a very colorless life. Instead, it is best to evaluate people holistically.

Love and hate are far more complex than commonalities and differences – all the more reason to go through life giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, not distancing ourselves from each other based on superficial characteristics but listening to our instincts to find our friends. Aspire to go through life ready to give each and every passerby a welcoming, hardy fist pound.

Dana Munro is a sophomore majoring in musical theater.

February 10, 2018

Reporters

Dana Munro


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

The Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship schedule is set. The No. 4 seed Miami Hurricanes ...

The first regular season of Gino DiMare’s head-coaching era ended Saturday at Mark Light Field. But ...

The Miami Hurricanes’ hopes for hosting an NCAA regional were damaged a bit on Friday night by a 12- ...

It took a long time for Dewan Hernandez to reach a point of acceptance for what happened to his juni ...

The life of a fullback isn’t always glamorous, even 15 years ago before the position was essentially ...

The University of Miami is shaping the future of education by using innovative approaches that drive ...

Six short films created by University of Miami film students will be screened in Los Angeles this we ...

Researchers from 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries, hosted by the Institute for the Advanced ...

Two University of Miami a cappella groups, Tufaan and BisCaydence, celebrated big wins in different ...

After Alabama’s governor signed into law the most-stringent anti-abortion bill in the nation, UM exp ...

Chris McMahon struck out six over five shutout innings to earn his first win since April 6. ...

Miami's Second Varsity Four earned a bronze medal at the 2019 ACC Rowing Championships Saturday ...

Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team is the ITA Southeast Region Arthur Ashe ...

100 days until Miami – Florida LVI. The countdown is on. ...

The ACC Network is set to launch August 22. If your television provider hasn't yet decided to c ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.