Thursday, March 10, 2016

Shannon Stewart Has Enjoyed the Diversity in Denver

It is crazy to think that I have been living in the Mile High City for a little over a month now! Time certainly flies when you’re having fun and staying busy. This semester has been filled with new adventures and exciting opportunities. To name a few, I’ve been able to experience cross-country skiing in the mountains, the Denver Zoo, a pro rodeo at the National Western Stock Show, a play at the Denver Performing Arts Center, and a Saturday hike in the mountains.

One thing I have really enjoyed about Denver is the diversity it has to offer. Not only are there countless unique opportunities to experience in the city like the ones I listed above, but Denver is filled with diverse people as well. Through my internship at the Denver Rescue Mission, I have had the incredible opportunity of working with refugees from all over the world. These refugee families have been exposed to a wide variety of life situations, including persecution, war, and natural disasters. So far, I have been able to visit with families from countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nepal, Iran, and Burma. This opportunity in itself is something I could never experience back in Waverly.

Working with refugees has allowed me to become so much more knowledgeable about the world and issues refugees face every day while adjusting to life in the United States. It has caused me to take a step back and have an empathetic heart for every family I come across. I have also become more open to diverse cultures and find myself wanting to learn more about people who are different from me. Although it is nearly impossible to understand where these refugee families are coming from, I feel honored to get the opportunity to be someone who is able to welcome them into the United States with open and loving arms.

Coming from a small town in Iowa, I knew that living in the city for a semester was going to be quite an adjustment for me. However, the adjustment has been nothing but positive, and I have come to value everything that Denver has to offer, including the diverse opportunities and people. Being exposed to such diversity has allowed me to learn more about myself and about the world outside of my little bubble in Waverly. A semester in Denver is truly a unique experience that cannot be found anywhere else.

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