October 29, 2015

GUEST BLOG | On Meeting New People

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By MEREDITH CHAGARES

Coming to Cornell as a freshman this fall, I knew that I was going to have a transformative, once in a lifetime experience. What I was perhaps most excited for was meeting new people.

I hail from a fairly small town in northern New Jersey. Despite my proximity to New York City, my town is populated by people who are almost the same in every respect. It is not racially diverse, residents tend to be politically conservative, people are fairly well educated and everyone my age looks roughly the same — the girls outfitted in yoga pants and the boys sporting their Vineyard Vines outfits. In addition, I spent my entire life with this group of people. Though it was a safe and nurturing community in which to be raised, by senior year I was more than ready to move on to live in a different type of community.

When I arrived at Cornell, I had the pleasure of meeting so many new people. That brings me to give a big shout-out to the Cornellians who put together the events designed to allow newcomers to both meet each other and to integrate them into the Cornell community. If you are an upperclassman, you undoubtedly remember this ritual. I have enjoyed meeting people different from me in just about every way. Really good, interesting people – the type of people who might become lifelong friends.

One of the first people that I met was someone, now a friend, from the African continent. I was fascinated speaking with him and learning about the different cultural customs and life experiences that he had and I believe that he was just as interested to talk to me about my customs and experiences. Learning from each other helps us to broaden our horizons, see things from a different perspective and appreciate our neighbors. It makes me happy to meet new people and to learn from them. This brings me to a second shout-out: the people who recruit and admit students to Cornell, from what I have seen, have done a tremendous job creating an interesting, rich and diverse student body. We all benefit from the getting to know our fellow Cornellians.

I am determined to be happy today, tomorrow and every day. I believe one’s happiness is largely determined by one’s own disposition, outlook and actions. It makes me happy to meet new people here at Cornell. Yes, I understand that everyone is not an extrovert (including me), but by extending myself a bit, I know that my experience here has been even richer and more pleasant simply by meeting others. I try to meet a new person every day. Perhaps I’ll get the chance to meet you.

Don’t live in a shell at Cornell. Meet someone new. Introduce yourself to someone you don’t yet know. I challenge everyone reading this to make an effort to meet someone new on campus and talk to them because I can almost guarantee that it will make you happy to talk to someone new, too.

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