Educate Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

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Central Falls, RI is defined by the Urban Dictionary as “a bankrupt, 1 mile square small city in northern RI, where about 17,000 people reside. Nicknamed CF, it consists of mostly triple-decker apartments and mills and is a relatively dirty city. Over 50% percent of the population is Hispanic and the rest of the population is mostly black. It’s pretty much a ghetto city with one of the worst high schools in the country and is an overrun by drugs. Bottom line is that it’s not an ideal place to live.”

This is pretty much the definition that represents what the majority of my high school classmates thought about my hometown. I really had mixed feelings about people’s perception, I didn’t know if I should be mad, appalled or both? Yes, it was a city mainly composed of lower income families. However, I did not see it as a “ghetto” city with a terrible education system. I would definitely constitute my first day of high school as a culture shock. I went to La Salle Academy, a predominantly white Catholic institution. Being from the inner city, this was my first time exposed to white counterparts. Since moving to the United States, I had only been around people of color, most of my classmates were Hispanic like me or black, and my teachers were mostly white. I hadn’t really thought of this until I got to high school because it wasn’t important to me at that time.

Outsiders thought this was an unsafe city, and it was impossible to walk or drive through. My family moved to the United States for safety reasons, and ever since arriving here, I had never been concerned for my safety. Additionally, through Central Fall’s public school system I was able to learn English quickly and efficiently as a result of their English as a Second Language program. I felt as if it was my duty to educate my classmates about where I came from. I found that most of them had never stepped foot in the city, or talked to others who lived there. Even though I may have not been able to change everyone’s negative perceptions, I could say I tried my best.

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Although this may sound cliché, I challenge individuals to step out of their comfort zone, and be more open to new experiences. Don’t be afraid to grow as an individual, life is about experiencing new things.  Seek to learn more about details about environments, situations and other individuals before jumping to conclusions or believing a simple Urban Dictionary definition. This small step will enable us as people with the ability to gain an insight into the experiences of others, as well as broadening the way we think.

 

 

 

 

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