Framing a positive story
February 9, 2020
“But what's even better is… they get to create a story that's never ever existed here on campus.”
We had a pretty good Indian community, back where I'm from in Ocala, Florida, so it wasn't a problem there. I will say, though, heavy racism exists in Northern Florida, so that was probably the biggest issue. My parents have gone through that, which is even worse. I'd rather go through it by a million than my parents. That hurts me the most.
I think at first they were hesitant [to talk to me about racism], not because - to tell me or anything - but because they themselves didn't fully believe it. But then it kept happening. And so then they were more convinced that this was a thing. But to them, they don't like excuses. Not that this is an excuse in any sense or form, but even if it is like a legit reason, they would push it to the side and ignore it, and they would move past it. And that 'hard work mentality' that we were just talking about? That 'never-quit mentality?' They would overcome all odds, with racism, with the religious frame that we have, everything. They'd overcome it all.
I tried to push it aside [when I came to Notre Dame], because I was here, like I said, for business school or for political science. And the people were very nice. So it didn't come to my attention until things started happening when I came here. And I expected it, right? Like, it's not going to be perfect. But I'm just the type of guy that - I guess it goes off of my parents - these things might happen, I learned to see the good in everyone. And sometimes it's even in subtle conversations with your friends, but if I try to teach them something, I try. If not, it's okay, then we move on.
As a coordinator for Riley Spring Visit, we're always bringing low socioeconomic status kids and minority kids to Notre Dame. And my job is not really to sell them anything, it's not about that at all. In fact, it's quite the opposite. It's really to tell them the story of what Notre Dame is actually like, and even the bad parts that come with that.
Here's how I prepare kids of diverse backgrounds: their story - whatever story that is - is super unique and super rare. At other state universities and other universities, where this diversity already exists, their story can be retold and retold and retold, and that's awesome. But what's even better is, if they come to Notre Dame - and they're leaders to some extent on campus - they get to create a story that's never ever existed here on campus.
About the interviewer
John (Jack) Lyons is a member of the Class of 2021 at the University of Notre Dame. He majors in theology and is a member of the John W. Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy.
Noble Patidar is a member of the Class of 2021 at the University of Notre Dame. He grew up in an Indian family as a first-generation American in Northern Florida. He studies political science and business.