It's something that seemed so far away when I took my first steps across campus, but somehow managed to come so quickly.
As I'm finishing up my time here at Auburn I often become nostalgic, looking back at what I've learned and experienced.
One day as I was looking for a file in my computer documents, I came across papers I've written in past English classes and other projects I've completed. It was interesting to see how my writing styles have changed through the years and definitely filled my nostalgia craving to relive my old assignments.
One file that I came across was an essay for my Introduction to Sociology class freshman year. We were assigned to write a short paper on a tradition or activity that was accepted and praised in our culture. The catch was we must write from an ethnocentric viewpoint.
Ethnocentrism is a sociological term used to describe the belief in the inherent superiority of one's own ethnic group or culture. Also a tendency to view outside groups from your own culture's perspective.
The point of the paper was for us to look at something that seemed "normal" in our culture as if we didn't understand our own social customs.
Mine was written about rolling the trees at Toomer's Corner. I was entertained by the poetic voice my freshman self used to convey the tradition. So here it is:
The disarray of arbored corners
It was as if an alarm went off throughout the surrounding area. All at once people began emerging from their hidden corners. Men, women, and children--they all came. A crowd floods the once deserted streets, roaring in celebration. Battle cries are shouted to every passerby. Each welcomes the commotion with a return shriek. Clusters of celebratory clans march down the paved streets of the city, all heading in the same direction. The slurred screams pierce the night and all silence has been broken. The travelers carry with them some sort of package. The pilgrimage eventually leads to a gathering of more celebratory members. Trees and idols on tall brick podiums surround the area. A religious assembly of some sorts is taking place. All members crowd together on one street corner and the commencement begins. The packages it seems are in-fact offerings of some fashion. Each offering is of a pure white color and without blemish. They all share a simple design with perfect curvature. The celebrators begin the ceremony with more loud chants. The rhythm of claps followed by a bellowing cheer is now the only thing able to be heard. Every pilgrim knows the chant and each cheers as loud as seemingly possible. Fists are thrown into the air in festivity when mention of victory over an opponent is shouted. Damnation of the adversary is declared. At the end of the mantra incomprehensible shouts break out in an undisciplined, savage manner. Cries to an eagle warrior and indications of praise are now the focus of every member of the celebration. In unison every person frantically waves their arms in circles above their heads and bellows a deep roar. Finally a conclusive shout erupts and the crowd begins to throw the offerings into the sky. As they fall they drape over the limbs of the trees. The ground is quickly covered in the white parchment and the people embrace each other. The air is thickened with the aroma of fermented liquid and smoke. The crowd continues this celebration for quite some time, but eventually grows anxious and leaves the location. As time progresses the cries die out, leaving the ground clothed in a white sheet, and the night silent once again.
It is interesting to look at something that makes complete sense to you as if it is an alien custom. I think this assignment is a good reminder to us all that the world is made of diverse people, with unique perspectives and different experiences. People aren't always going to understand us or why we do things a certain way.
That's another thing I've learned during my time at Auburn, and is something I've definitely come to appreciate.
Although Auburn University definitely fits into the charming category of southern universities, we are still able to experience diversity and intercultural communication. Through my time here I've met individuals and groups of diverse ethnicities, sexual orientations, religious affiliations, political associations, accessibilities and people with diversity of passions.
Although senior year is proving to be a time of nostalgia and reflection, it is also a time to appreciate personal growth and a time to anticipate oncoming change.
What I'm looking forward to the most in "the real world" is the opportunity to experience something different and to dive in with an attentive mind and open heart.
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