Lucye Rafferty/The Hoya Eric Kim

Four years ago, I came to Georgetown expecting to experience the diversity that every college made a point to emphasize. I had been raised in an affluent suburb of New Jersey, and I had gone to a New York private school where the student population consisted mainly of rich Jewish boys and girls. My high school provided me with a competitive environment and carried a respected reputation that helped when applying for colleges. But in terms of diversity, my school offered little. From bar mitzvahs on cruises to a senior prom at a posh Manhattan hotel, my high school exuded an elitist nature that I bought into.

When I walked up the Village C steps for the first time on freshman move-in day, I realized diversity was more than a word on a college brochure. From a high school class of 150 to a graduating class ten times that, the sheer numbers of people overwhelmed me.

I joined clubs and extracurricular activities to meet new people and also to do things in which I was interested. During my freshman year, I got involved in the orchestra, inner city tutoring and THE HOYA. However I was reluctant to join culturally oriented clubs such as the Asian American Student Association or the Korean Student Association because I didn’t want to be stereotyped as an Asian groupie. People had told me that in college, students became more socially divided according to racial or ethnic group compared to high school. Therefore I avoided Georgetown’s Asian cultural groups so that I could maintain a diverse group of friends.

I had always considered myself a twinkie, someone who was yellow or Asian on the outside but was more comfortable with white people on the inside. For almost my entire life, I had been around Caucasians more than any other race and I thought I related to them better than Asians. However, my experience with THE HOYA contributed to a change in my self perception.

At THE HOYA, I was able to find a comfortable niche writing my weekly sports column and trying to imitate the style of a great pantheon of sportswriters. With the help of the magical Ethernet, I checked the ESPN and CNNSI Web sites about 15 times a day, even at 4 a.m. when I knew there were no updates or changes in stories. It simply became a habit. I read the styles of writers not just in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area but all across the nation and I observed that every writer expressed their identity through their pieces.

I felt proud when Asian players burst onto the American sports scene and proved they could hang out with the big professional boys. People like Ichiro Suzuki and Yao Ming were breaking barriers that I, as an Asian-American, noticed. And so I wrote a column about this particular issue last summer right when Yao Ming was about to declare for the NBA draft. From that column, I received my first and only piece of fan mail. Some guy from Texas had come across my article online and appreciated the fact that I had written an article about Asians in American sports.

While I didn’t think much about the column when I was writing it, my one piece of fan mail helped me realize that my Asian-American perspective really added a different dimension to the newsroom. Rarely in my daily scouring of American sports Web sites and newspapers had I ever found an article that addressed the type of issues I had raised in my “Asians in sports” column.

Diversity in the newsroom is so important nowadays, especially as I have lived through Sept. 11 and a war with Iraq in my four years here. The more diverse a newsroom is, the more different events and opinions are raised. With a variety of issues in the newspaper, more and more people will read and appreciate the significance of the media in today’s world.

Diversity in the newsroom is no less important here at Georgetown than it is throughout the world. My friends who organized and performed in cultural events such as the South Asian Society’s Rangila and AASA’s Asiafest were ecstatic when their shows were finally covered in THE HOYA and other Georgetown newspapers. Though Rangila and Asiafest had existed for a few years, they had received scant attention despite being two of the most popular cultural shows on campus.

And so I encourage those who have an interest in journalism to join the newsroom. Every college and university brags about its student diversity. However only with more voices and perspectives in the newsroom will there be a better awareness of the students that make this campus glow.

Eric Kim is a senior in the College and a former Sports Editor and author of the sports column DOWN TO CHINATOWN.

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