Student Mary Abounabhan is working to create an inclusive culture for everyone at Kansas State University – by overcoming cultural barriers.
Abounabhan, a Lebanese and American dual-citizen, is trying to help create a campus that celebrates diversity by encouraging students of different backgrounds to share experiences.
In between working toward her Business Management Major with Minors in Mandarin and Dance, Abounabhan is also the multicultural affairs director for the Student Governing Association, president of the International Buddies Program, president of the Chinese Language and Culture Club and a resident assistant for the Kansas State Honors House.
On top of all of this, she is also passionate to try to create an inclusive campus through education and conversation. She believes this will create the compassionate environment needed to embrace the interconnected world in which we live.
“Our world is as connected as it ever has been. In order to prepare ourselves for making the best of any environment we live in, we need to reach beyond our comfort zones and open our eyes to the people around us and their stories,” Abounabhan told Study International.
“When cultural barriers are broken down, people are able to look at life in new and more meaningful perspectives.”
Abounabhan says cultural barriers are best broken down through experiencing the world through another person’s eyes. While people tend to migrate toward people with a similar culture to them, talking to people from different backgrounds will start conversations that challenge perceptions.
She believes that by working together to broaden our perspectives and listening to people who have had different life experiences to us, cultural divides can be overcome.
“As people in any community, we all carry the responsibility to build a more inclusive, accepting, and diverse culture. No one can do it alone and no one should do it alone,” she said.
— Sarah & Mary 4 SGA (@sga_sarah) February 10, 2017
Although there is still a long way to go, Abounabhan says this should not discourage students from studying internationally.
“Studying in a different country enriches your life experience and will give you the best memories if you choose to get involved in the campus atmosphere,” Abounabhan concluded.