I came to W&L for the very same reason that a lot of POC students decided to come here – financial aid. I remember talking to my counselor in high school and she suggested W&L because they were diversifying their student body, which gave me a higher chance of getting in and receiving funds. Being a scholarship student in a private school for privileged people in my country, I thought I was ready for the challenge ahead, especially when my presence in the school was to serve towards a quota.
Yet, the feeling of being excluded unintentionally still surprised me. People talk about the O-week trip as their once in a life time experience and a great opportunity to build bonds, but for me, that whole week was like a slap. From the very first day we met, people already forming groups, and I was always the last one in the line.
Not because my pace was slow, but because no one was noticing me. I remember a night when we were playing bonding game, people were saying their impression of each other. When it was their turn to talk about their impression of me, one of them talked about how they thought I would drop out of college because I looked like I would do that. That night, I cried in my own sleeping bag, asking myself what kind of impression I had given them for them to say such a thing.
I have never been so silenced in my life. During the whole week, I barely talked, and I didn’t dare to. No one really talked to me, no one cared to get to know me.
We were having group dinner and members were put in groups randomly to cook by themselves. I was thinking of offering to cook because I love to, and make them my country’s dishes, introducing them to the culture.
But both of the members in my group ended up not listening to my idea and agree on something else. I offered to twist the dish a little bit, and they decided to do theirs separately, completely leave me out of the group.
Never did I expect that O-week would just be the start. Things got worse during the year. Slowly, I don’t even notice the microaggressions that I faced daily on campus. I choose to ignore all of those and stopped trying to fit in.
I thought that the worst I would experience was what I went through in high school. But W&L has turned out to be way worse.