Interview with Yharisbel Ramirez, sophomore, Marketing Major
by Abbi Derlinga, sophomore, PsychologyMajor
What are your name, year, major and pronouns?
My name is Yharisbel, this is my sophomore year and I’m majoring in marketing. My pronouns are she/her.
What personal experience our journey brought you into your current role at SUNY New Paltz?
As a kid I’ve always wanted to be a college student, and in my family nobody has gone to college. I just felt like I needed to go for me and for them. I feel like in order to get further in life you definitely need to be as knowledgeable as possible and education was really important to me from the very beginning. It’s funny because SUNY New Paltz was not my first choice, but circumstances led me here. I was very shocked when I wasn’t accepted but I decided to come here like it’s better for me to be in a place where I am surrounded by inspiration and have a faster pace. SUNY New Paltz is great but I don’t think it has all that I need for my major and career goals, but right now I feel like it’s fine. I do want to move to a different place in the future.
What issues or challenges are you confronted with or have you been confronted with that has gotten you to where you are today?
This is really hard to talk about for me personally, as I don’t usually talk about my personal life. I wasn’t born here, I actually came to this country at age 7 from the Dominican Republic, and was born and raised there my entire childhood. Definitely the biggest challenge that I faced when I got here was the assimilation to academics and the culture here. It was very different compared to where I was from, and adapting to those challenges in this country was very difficult. Learning to speak English and making friends were really really challenging for me in the beginning. I mean moving somewhere you’ve never really been too and being young comes with its advantages and disadvantages. At that age you’re still finding your way and learning everything about life. Little kids absorb everything around them, and I feel like that’s what made my learning a little bit easier. I think it would have been much more difficult had I come here as a teenager trying to adapt to this new culture and life in general. To have to completely change how you’re living, and what you know after it’s been engraved into your life would, I imagine, be extremely challenging.
Why do you think these challenges exist?
I think for me they existed because my family wanted a better life for me and for my siblings, but for me especially because I was the only one out of my siblings to be born in a different country. My mom wanted a better life for me, and she wanted a better education for me as well. She knew that I couldn’t get those things in the country that we were living in at the time.
What challenges exist in the larger system and why do these challenges exist?
I feel like the part where people are accepted into a new place by others is definitely a big challenge in the larger system. I remember that not a lot of kids would talk to me because I couldn’t communicate with them. I don’t think it was because they didn’t want to, I think it was just because there was that barrier where I and that person couldn’t communicate because I didn’t know their language. I think another part is true with a lot of kids in that when they’re young, they only really hang out with the kids that they grew up around and it’s hard for them to welcome new people into their “group.” It’s like you come in and you’re basically an intruder to their social group and social life and it was very hard for me to feel like I belonged. It was very clicky and I wasn’t the person that would walk up to someone and ask them to be my friend. It’s hard especially when they’ve grown up with those people their whole life and have already established their social group and you’re just trying to adapt to life in this new place. To have to then deal with trying to make friends when others already have their social group is hard. I came here when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade so a lot of the kids who were in that school had known each other their entire life and I can’t blame them for not wanting to include someone else because we were little kids and little kids don’t know any better. Looking back at it I just realise how much of an impact that played in growing up.
What are the blockages do you think that exist in the larger system?
Looking back, a lot of it was age difference for sure and where we were at. The kids that were already here did not know me so I kind of just came into their world and I feel like that was a big part of the blockage between me and the rest.
What are your most important sources of success and change?
I think education for sure, as I’m the type of person that loves to learn. I love to learn new things and I think that that’s the most important when it comes to being kind to others and being understanding of others’ thoughts and ideas. I feel like in the past I would have liked something that complemented what I want to do in life, like I want something that grabs me, opportunities in the real world. I feel like right now I’m in a community where the diversity is tremendous and I am very glad that I am in the community that I am. I like that you turn around and you see someone who is completely different from you who has completely different ideas and that’s really important to me.
If you could change a few elements of the system what would you change?
Changing a whole system is very difficult while you would have to start from the very beginning on the core of a particular issue. I would say raising children to be more accepting of others is one of the biggest things. Nowadays a lot of kids are just on their technological devices and forget about the world, and playing outside. Playing outside was very important for me growing up and that’s not really the case anymore. A lot of kids are just devoted to these devices. I wouldn’t get rid of technology altogether, but I would encourage families to be more attentive to the issues in our world and technology as a whole. I would just go back to how things were before technology devices like iPads and Xboxes.
What initiative if implemented would have the greatest impact for you for the system as a whole?
Like I said befor,e minimising the amount of time that we all as people are on technological devices would create a more united Community. It would also allow people to be more present in life and I feel like that would really encourage people to talk to others and express themselves and what they believe in more. I feel like starting there is going to change a lot of people’s perspective on issues that are going on in the real world today. Communication is amazing and all, but I think a lot of people are blinded by so many things. They’ll just believe anything that they hear on the news or on social media when that’s not always the truth and it can really cloud your judgement. I think it’s hard because we’re still stuck in the rabbit hole of technology. People will go out to eat and just be on their phones the entire time, like why do you come to dinner in the first place you might as well stay home.
Who else do you think that we need to talk to?
I think we need to talk to everyone about this because sometimes we don’t notice it and I think it would make a huge difference if someone pointed it out to them.