Written by Anne Kirby, Staff Writer
Throughout our time here at Furman, we are all growing and developing into complex individuals with a wide array of experiences. It is a time where we can discover the things that pique our interest and spark passion inside of us. The goal is to come out on the other side of the four years, a more holistic person— one who knows him or herself and has had the types of rich experiences that “The Furman Advantage” promises to offer to prepare us for the future. But this is not just handed to us. In order to develop into an active contributor to the greater good of the world, we must be intentional about the kinds of situations we put ourselves into. We must open up doors to experiences that diversify our perspectives and force us to consider thoughts and views that differ from our own.
One of the ways that we as students at Furman have the opportunity to expand our world outlook is through volunteering to serve individuals who do not have the same kind of privileges that many of us do. There are many chances to do this and in various capacities, whether it be tutoring kids after school in a low-income area, being trained to advocate for sexual assault victims, or checking in patients at the Free Medical Clinic. Exposure to others lifestyles and the challenges they have faced is sure to enhance our sense of compassion for other individuals. It also guarantees an understanding that not everyone has the same opportunities that we have had, but that does not make us inherently better than them. Their opinions and thoughts are just as valuable to listen to.
In addition to exposing ourselves to different upbringings outside of our bubble, we can also be intentional about having conversations with our peers in which we can respectfully listen to their opinions and experiences and allow it to open our minds. In the politically tense climate that we live in, there is often a lot of division due to the entitled nature of discussion that many choose to follow. But we can talk about things that matter in a considerate manner that does not accuse anyone’s viewpoint of being wrong. As a whole, this can only make us more benevolent human beings, open to all types of perspectives rather than assuming that our own is the only one that is right.
Many, though not all, Furman students have spent the majority of their lives surrounded by like-minded people with similar backgrounds. College can be an especially unique time to break out of these confines and learn what other perspectives exist in order to further strengthen our own beliefs and values. Meanwhile, not only will our own ideas become more definitive, but our sense of empathy will grow as we continue to think beyond the frame of mind that we have remained in for so long. After all, staying strictly inside the bubble of our own world can only be a disadvantage to our minds and existences.