Exploring Labels Danielle Jennings

At Thornton Academy, a school with a student body higher than any other in the state of Maine, hundreds of labels and stereotypes are passed daily. Whether it be athletes, artists, hipsters, rebels, or international students, a certain connotation reaps from being a part of any such group. As seen in the definition above, the images and ideas of people and groups are far too oversimplified, and unjustly describe someone.

I chose to explore International Students as a group

The dorm / international community are seen as their own species at TA. Meaning as in they all flock to one another, and stereotypically, don’t befriend or want to be associated with anyone from the US.

Especially for Asian students, the stereotype is that they are only in America to study hard and be successful. They’re seen by many as annoying and that they stop in the middle of the hallway, only think about getting good grades, and don’t really have much school spirit.

From personal experience, I know that these stereotypes are not remotely true. I live with two girls from China who attend Thornton, and while they do care about their studies, they are far much more than their stereotype makes them out to be.

For European students, the stereotype is a little different, where they are seen as more active in school activities and more open to socializing with Americans. Like the Asian students though, many see that the Europeans hang out mainly with people from the dorms.

What do you think of when you think of International Students?

I asked several classmates to share the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about dorm / international students.

“They are quiet and isolated, they talk to each other a lot”.

“We think that they’re rich and smart. They are quiet and keep to themselves”.

“They’re quiet and nice”.

“It depends on where they come from. European kids are more outgoing, whereas Asian students are more quiet and keep to themselves”.

“They’re pretty reclusive and slow”.

“They aren’t very diverse, they mainly hang out with people in their own group”

Perhaps the lack of diversity in their group comes less from their need to isolate themselves from American students, but more from the fact that they feel like they are not welcomed into our own community.

I believe that the social advantages of being a dorm or international student is that you have connections, and commonalities with other dorm students.
Disadvantage wise though, you are seen as an outsider by many, and someone that people assume don't want to be associated with.
On the social ladder, I think that dorm and international students are in the middle or lower segment, because many of them interact with American students and are quite social, but a lot of them also do not, so they are not well known by the vast population at school.

I think that people categorize me in the artsy / hippy / vegan group.

I think that people in this group are expected to have a deep spiritual sense of the world and that they meditate, do yoga, and eat nothing but vegetables.

A negative connotation with this group also is that they smoke a lot of pot. I feel like I am artsy and to some extent fit this categorization people put me in, but I’m not a spiritual hippy guru and I’m not a pothead, contrary to what people think.

I don’t really feel pressure though because I’m passionate about art and veganism so I’m not really forcing myself to be something I’m not, people just categorize me based on who I really am, just on a much more vague level.

Labels suck.

Get to know people before you define them.

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