We Are Calvin [too]: Victor Hugo Perez

Photo courtesy We are Calvin [too]
Photo courtesy We are Calvin [too]

This story is a part of a larger series. A description of the purpose of the series can be found here.

My decision to attend Calvin was made easy by the Entrada program. I fell in love with the people and the environment I found at Calvin during that one month. As much as I loved the program, however, I feel it left me with a false impression of what Calvin was really like in terms of its diversity and atmosphere.

Something that struck me was how much I felt like I didn’t belong, or I just couldn’t relate to many of the Calvin students. I come from a poor background, so going to college was always talked about in my house.

I realized that I came from a different background than most people going to Calvin, but I couldn’t understand the people I met who behaved totally differently from how they actually were outside of Calvin.

We live in a society in which we are constantly told how to conduct ourselves and what is appropriate for each situation. An experience I had in one of my classes quickly reminded me of this. I was asked to answer a question about the readings, so in my mind I said “no problem,” and answered the question. To my surprise everybody started laughing, including the professor.

At this moment I’m sitting back thinking I must have answered it wrong — why else would everybody be laughing? The professor finishes laughing and moves on to the next question, so I stop him mid-question and ask, “So was that answer right?”

He says, “Yeah, that was the right answer.” I realized that they weren’t laughing at my answer but instead at the way I said it, because of my tendency to talk with a thuggish accent at times. This experience discouraged me from speaking in class for a time.

At first, I decided to try speaking more like the people I chose to go to school with, but then I snapped out of it and decided I should just talk and not worry about what people think. I have always been a very independent person and wanted to forge my own path, but I felt pressured to fit in and go with the flow.

People may want to believe that racism isn’t prevalent in our society or here at Calvin, but it is. It has simply taken on new forms. The way I speak and dress comes from the people and culture I grew up with. Unfortunately, people are trained to look down on people that look or talk like me

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