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Owen's Story

Owen discusses how he went to college during the Vietnam War and what he learned from not only the education and the professors but also the people he attended the university with.

Owen's Story
00:00 / 03:11

When I was 19, approximately, there was something going on called the Vietnam War and you probably studied it in ancient history or something like that, but for those of us who didn't really want to get out there and get shot at we had to find ways to not do that. And we also didn’t believe that war was necessary. So I was a part of a group of people, there were many many of us, who said no this was not a good idea, and the only way I could stay out was to go to college. So I went to college.

Another thing that was big in my life is when I went into college was meeting different people from different parts of the world and more so different parts of the country but I did meet a few people from outside the US. And some people have big influences on you, some people have small influences on you and some people you just dont understand. Part of the not understanding is you just have to learn to accept people as they are. I would say the majority of kids that I was in classes with were white from middle class suburban cities around, middle class suburbs from large cities around the country. I went to school in St. Louis and I came from a suburb around Washington DC. There were so many people from so many other places that were similar to me, then I got to meet people who were different to me.

I remember, one young woman came from Hawaii and she was native Hawaiian and that was cool. I had never met anyone from Hawaii before. One day it snowed, and she ran outside and she went absolutely berzerc running in between the snowflakes because she had read about it, seen it in movies, but she had never experienced snow before. And I thought, “Okay, this is cool.” You know, just trying to understand someone's frame of mind, especially when you grow up with snow. You know its like what's this snow. And this is like a life changing event for her. And I thought Okay, that’s cool.

It is to be able to do that and not to judge someone based on things like that. And I grew up in a society where alot of people were not accepted as they were. Alot of minorities were looked down upon and legally discriminated against. You know that sort of has gone away but not entirely. There was no such thing as people who were openly gay, that just didn’t happen during that period of time. People did not date interracially. You know you never saw a white woman with ablack guy. It just didnt happen.

So when you start meeting people that are different and meeting people that are a little outside your realm of experience you learn about them and learn to accept them. That was a huge thing for me. To transition from living with stereotypes which are reinforced by things like TV shows to getting to know people and understanding who the people were. And understanding a person as a person, not just put into a category- a stereotype.

Part of going to school was that piece of education.

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