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Yossarian Jones enrolled in NYU Abu Dhabi as a young, moderately open-minded freshman. But after three years of travel, intercultural dialogue and seeing more of the world than he ever expected, Jones faces an unavoidable fact.
“NYUAD has kind of turned me into a racist,” he said.
By putting him in repeated contact with one of the most diverse student bodies in the world, NYUAD has helped Jones cultivate a vast and extensive collection of fiercely-held stereotypes, most of them negative.
Now, he will be graduating more prejudiced and xenophobic than ever.
“NYUAD introduced me to cultures and places I’d never even heard about,” said Jones. “And then made me hate them.”
Dr. Susan Salamano, a counselor at the university’s Health and Wellness Center, said that Jones’ case is indicative of a larger phenomenon at the school.
“The university is very diverse, but also very small. It’s a tiny sample size,” she explained. “So when a student sees someone from another place, they’ll take that person as representative of the entire country.”
For students, these individual experiences get recycled into general beliefs about foreign cultures.
“A Greek kid once cut me in line in the dining hall,” said Jones. "Now I hate Greek people."
According to Dr. Salamano, instances like these have led to a pervasive atmosphere of racism, despite NYUAD’s professed mission to expand students’ horizons and make them challenge popular stereotypes.
“Oh, I won’t deny that the university helped me realize I grew up with a lot of negative, preconceived notions about other people,” said Jones. “Unfortunately, it’s also made me realize that all these notions are correct.”
Not only has NYUAD confirmed Jones’ past prejudices, making him more comfortable in his bigotry, but it also caused new stereotypes to evolve.
“I’d stay and chat, but I have a lot of work to do,” explained Jones, getting up from his seat. “I have to do a group project with a Swedish kid, and everyone knows that out of all the Scandinavians, the Swedish are the worst at group projects.”