Intg 1: Prompt 1
I don’t know anything about football. In high school, I consistently went to my school team’s football games even though I usually had no idea what was going on. Still, this didn’t faze me. I thought that it was a good way to spend time with and support my friends on the team. I eventually even gained a basic understanding of the sport by the end of the season by constantly asking my friends about what was happening in the game.
When I got into Notre Dame, my peers all raved about the school’s football team and the culture surrounding the sport. They all asked me if I would attend the football games at Notre Dame, but I wasn’t certain at the time. I went to my high school football games to socialize and be with friends. I wasn’t sure if that would still be the case in college, and I asked myself: “What if I don’t make friends that are patient enough to field my questions about a sport so essential to the college’s culture?”
These initial doubts were constantly in my mind in the days before Notre Dame’s first game of the season against Texas. I was having difficulty making friends because I was experiencing a mixture of homesickness and culture shock. At the time, I couldn’t believe that I was at Notre Dame. My peers in my classes were all amazingly intelligent and accomplished, while my background was one based in one of the worst high schools in the country. I felt that I didn’t belong because of this, and its constant presence in my mind made it difficult for me to find the confidence to make new friends. However, I did manage to find solace in a group that I was sure that I could rely on: the Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars.
After spending a month in the summer with the students from the Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars, we all considered each other as reliable friends. I knew I could rely on them, and they invited me to sit with them during the football game. The time I spent with them was nothing short of amazing. I was stunned by the spirit and revelry expressed by the other students, and I was met with a sense of inclusion that I was not expecting. This was expressed not only by my fellow Balfour scholars, but students that I did not personally know either. While I was there, I felt as if I was truly part of the Notre Dame family.
My experiences at the game were not only related to the pillar of Family with the inclusion I experienced with the help of my peers, but were also relevant to Zeal. While I personally did not express this pillar, the zeal my peers had in including me in their social circles helped me develop my own personal sense of zeal that will motivate me to do the same for other students that have difficulty fitting in. This is reflective of the information provided in the third week of FYS course content, Interpersonal Relationships. I especially found “Canons of Friendship” piece to be relevant to my situation. The piece describes friends as those who “when the skies are dark, will be there to give his support, to share his friend's worries.” I found these friends while I was facing thoughts of exclusions and dealing with a lack of belonging.
In the future, I hope to utilize my experiences from my first football game as a source of confidence when approaching people that I have not yet met. I hope to use it as a cornerstone in the development of my self-confidence during my time at Notre Dame, and I am certain that it will facilitate growth not only in terms of relationships, but also academically when I struggle with test anxiety.
Intg 1: Prompt 2
At Notre Dame, I’m different. One can determine this just by looking at me – I’m a dark-skinned, Dravidian Indian that has the fashion sense of a blind hermit. But it’s not just the superficial qualities that make me feel radically different. I’m a vegetarian; my high school education was extremely sub-par when compared to the AP-laden course loads of my peers that attended private schools; I’m on an almost full need-based scholarship while some of the students that I am surrounded by are from families that have sums of wealth that I cannot even begin to imagine. It is not difficult to guess that I did not feel like I belonged at Notre Dame; I believed the same idea for the first few weeks, and I longed for some semblance of belonging.
Even though Notre Dame emphasized the importance of inclusion and community for all students, I did not find any concrete example of it. At the time, the only communities I saw forming were between the males in my dorm that regularly drank and partied, and that was not my type of lifestyle. Before coming to campus, I knew that finding my place would be difficult because of how different my background was, but I did not think it would be so difficult. I did my best to socialize, but my efforts proved to be in vain until I receive an invitation to an event hosted by the Asian American Association of Notre Dame – the Asian American Retreat.
From the description they provided, it seemed like the perfect way to meet other people that were in my situation and make friends. I decided to sign up for the event, and I met up with the association and a group of other freshmen that signed up for the retreat. We traveled to the Sacred Heart Parish, and the time I spent there helped me realize that I was not alone in my struggles. What we did was relatively simple – we discussed the issues of transitioning into an environment with a Catholic, Caucasian majority, played games, and helped support each other’s struggles in college so far. However, even though what we did was nothing revolutionary, it was just what I needed. I finally felt as though I belonged and had a group that I could trust and meet with when I needed support.
My experiences with the Asian American Retreat helped me find truth in two pillars of the Holy Cross Education: Family and Mind. I felt as though I was a member of a family that existed solely for the purpose to support those who were struggling with the same issues that I was having, and they helped me realize, through a combination of introspection and external support, that I was not alone in my college endeavors. I had their support when I needed it, and I am more than willing to make use of it when necessary. My time at the retreat also helped me make a connection to the “Intersection of Identities,” coursework for my FYS course, especially the video concerning the dangers of a single story. The Asian American Retreat not only helped me realize that I was not alone in my worries, but the individuals at the retreat helped me become aware of my assumptions of my Caucasian peers – I assumed that they were all rich and affluent, but, just as I was defined by my nuanced experiences, they were as well. I continually remind myself of this as I attempt to make new friends and connections, and I hope to use my experiences at the Asian American Retreat as a reminder that I do have a place at Notre Dame.
I also intend on utilizing my experiences as a starting point for making new friends. While I do enjoy the company of my roommate and my neighbors in Keenan, I feel as though I have not made an effort to make new friends out of a fear of rejection. This initially stemmed from my belief that I was too different from everyone around me to socialize successfully. However, the Asian American Retreat showed me that this was not the case, and I plan on making it a personal goal of mine to make new friends.
Intg 1: Prompt 3
I’ve always loved running. It’s been a hobby of mine ever since freshman year of high school, and it’s served as both a method for maintaining my health and relieving my stress. My own personal interest in running even influenced my sister to get into running, and she currently holds the fastest 5k time in her high school. However, even though I’ve been running for longer than my sister has, I’ve never attempted to actively improve my speeds or times. Instead, I usually just ran as a hobby because I didn’t believe that I was good enough to run competitively because of my lack of background in athletics. But, after months of persuading, my sister convinced me to search for a group of runners at Notre Dame.
Initially, I couldn’t find a group that ran exclusively; instead, I found the triathlon club. I was hesitant to join because I had never biked or swam consistently before, and I didn’t want to hold back the rest of the club. But, after being motivated by both my sister and the president of the club, I decided to attend their practices and do my best.
My predictions for my performance were very accurate. I was absolutely abysmal at all of their events. While everyone, even the new members, was easily swimming 1600 meters in a day of practice, I was unable to finish even 200 meters without becoming incredibly exhausted. I was even unable to bike at a gear higher than 12, even though the other members were easily pushing their gears up to the 17-20 range. But, worst of all, I was completely unable to keep up in their runs. The most I had ever run before joining Triathlon Club was three miles, but the first run I did with the club was just under five miles. While I was able to finish without stopping, the officer that led the runs had to slow down to accompany me and ensure that I was okay.
I was incredibly embarrassed and ashamed at my performance. I was surrounded by amazing athletes that had what seemed like superhuman stamina, but I could barely keep up with them. I felt that I didn’t belong in the club, and I was contemplating leaving, but after speaking to Joe, the officer that slowed down to keep up with me during my run, I knew that I couldn’t leave. He told me that it was okay that I was slow, and that he and the other members of the club would do their best to help me improve and learn. He presented me to the welcoming and tenacious culture surrounding Triathlon Club, and I wasn’t expecting such a warm response at all. Because of him and the other members, I decided to stick with the club and attend all the practice to eventually participate in a triathlon myself.
The culture that I was presented to in Triathlon Club applied to the pillars of Zeal, Family, and Mind to me. While I didn’t have an initial desire to participate in the club, the influence of my sister and other members of the club helped me find the motivation to join and participate in it. When I doubted my ability and place in the club, the members and officers of the club treated me like family and presented me to a culture of tenacity and openness that will stay with me whenever I doubt my athletic ability. I also believe that this mindset can be applied to my academic career as well. I am currently struggling with test anxiety and a sense of academic inadequacy because of my high school background, but the tenacious attitude that Triathlon Club has given me has already helped me overcome some of my confidence issues.
These values also presented themselves in some of the coursework in my Moreau FYS course, especially that of Personal Well-Being. While I did make some small effort to maintain my health in the past, my athletic efforts were nothing too considerable. With the added rigor of the athletics in Triathlon Club, I am certain that both my athletic and mental well-being will improve, not only because of the stamina that I will eventually build up, but also because of the confidence given to me by my improved running. With this confidence, I hope to accomplish some new goals that I have set for myself. I want to rid myself of my test anxiety and utilize my confidence to base my ability on my study habits and not my experiences in high schools. I also hope to utilize this confidence to participate in a triathlon by my sophomore year.
This is the route I ran for my first running practice with Triathlon Club: