It’s strange — the world, I mean. How could we live in a world so wide yet so small? Yes, while we’re in high school thinking about the world in some ways it is impossible to comprehend. How could we possibly understand what other people with different cultures and customs go through on a daily basis? How could we understand what it means have a different upbringing than what we had? It’s hard to imagine, but under this great blue sky lies everyone born into this world.
Though we appear different, we are all alike in some shape or way. Every person has a favorite color, prefers a type of food over the other, and has their personal style. We judge and are judged for simple things that do not consider our individual thoughts or opinions, for example a country is prejudged because of the leaders of their nation or a group of people are attacked because of their race. Why do we judge people based on their culture and looks? I don’t quite fully understand why we do this but it seems to be involuntary. It only takes half a second to develop a prejudice on someone, but it takes weeks to get to know a person.
A few years ago, I knew a girl back in my hometown of Brooklyn, her name was Crystal Chan. She had a pure Chinese ancestry, but was born in America. She was pretty: Straight silky black hair, a thin stout body, a sunny tone to her pale skin, and black squinty eyes framed by thick eyelashes. She lived directly across the street from me. She was also my best friend for seven years.
We met in pre-K. Thinking back, it was probably because we were so young that we did not judge each other right away. We were just like the rest of the kids in the class, wide eyed and open to forming a bond. Both of us hadn’t yet learned the differences of race or culture that one learns from parents or is gained by the wisdom of age, so we instantly clicked. After about a week, we were inseparable.
We did everything together. We sold lemonade, made up our own games, and went to school every morning with each other. Only on Saturdays did we not hang out. On those days I would watch Saturday morning cartoons as she went to school and learned how to write in Chinese.
Of course our friendship looked strange to outsiders at the time. She was Chinese and I am Guyanese. We were two girls in a strong friendship but belonged to different sides of the world. Of course we were raised differently: Growing up eating different foods, dancing to songs of different languages, and having different family traditions. Our backgrounds were so unlike yet we could relate to each other and be best friends for such a long time.
It was weird to people because on the outside we seemed so unlike but on the inside we were still two little girls who played hopscotch and jump rope. We probably wouldn’t have even made eye contact if we were taught to judge people before pre-k but, because we got to know each other, we made great childhood memories that will last a lifetime. If we hadn’t looked past our differences then we probably wouldn’t have been friends.
You know, if we all looked at people with a mind of a pre-kindergartner, maybe the world wouldn’t seem so big.
Oma Cecil is a sophomore at Schenectady High School