Dear Student: Valuing Cultural Expression
Our “Dear Student” letters are intended to provoke mental health awareness, reflection, and discussion about your experiences of culture, community, and identity here at NC State. It is also an invitation to join with us or others in your life around these challenging conversations.
As mental health professionals focused on creating personal growth and an understanding of the self, we recognize and appreciate the importance of cultural expression in your life. As a staff we aim to encourage cultural expression as a way of reflecting the different backgrounds and identities that are a part of our Wolfpack community.
We believe this is important because culture informs and provides a backbone from which a person grows. The expression of one’s culture highlights the important parts of one’s identity and values system. Through our appreciation of cultural expression, we each can choose the aspects of culture that further self-acceptance and insight, and better understand how we are alike and different from each other. This gives us the ability to embrace other people who have different backgrounds on a deeper level by sharing a passion for knowing more and participating in other culture’s rituals, observances, and holidays. This is essential to a college education; gaining exposure in a new environment that is different from the community in which one was raised.
Too often, as individuals we may feel self-conscious or ashamed about culturally expressing ourselves. We may have conflicted feelings about embracing our cultural roots, or fear the response from others if and when we do express ourselves culturally. Other times, we may be afraid to explore cultural expression for ourselves because we are aware our identity comes with certain historical privileges. These psychological and emotional barriers can stop us from fully exploring our personhood, from living more authentically, and from tapping into pieces of our identity that make us feel whole. As a staff, we invite you to share in our value for cultural expression and come talk to us about these challenges you may be facing. Whether you seek counseling, mentorship from offices such as Multicultural Student Affairs or CSLEPS, or another source of support to explore and increase cultural expression in your life, remember this:
“We should feel empowered by where we came from and who we are, not hide it. It is important to acknowledge that everything we do affects our ancestors as much as they have affected us.” –Lorin Morgan-Richards
Until next time,
Your Counseling Center