Journey to Not Knowing by Harry
27 Sep 2019 12:47 PM
When MSA asked me to write this blog post, I didn’t know where to begin. My name is Harry Nguyen and I’m currently a junior studying business management with a minor in marketing. It only took me up until my third year of college to decide what I wanted to study and I think this is a good starting point to share my experience here at Iowa State. Just like this post, when I first started my academic university experience, I didn’t know where to begin. Coming from Des Moines, IA and an ethnically diverse school system I was presented with a culture shock at a predominantly white institution. I had to start all over in figuring out my identity and where I belonged in this new environment.
Fortunately, I am a recipient of the Multicultural Vision Program scholarship and that allowed me to surround myself by people who looked like me and shared the same cultural experiences as me. The program gave me some sort of direction in identifying myself in this environment by allowing me to keep in touch with my roots through social events and the networking opportunities that it provided. I’ve made friends who share similar challenges as I am facing and I believe the benefit of this is knowing that you’re not alone. When you are faced with certain challenges it is easy to think that you are alone because it is a battle within yourself. By surrounding yourself with people and sharing each other’s battles, it becomes a collective goal to uplift each other over obstacles because nobody got to where they are today on their own. That’s the way I see it.
I came in as open-option and my battle was not knowing what I wanted to study and not knowing who I was in this place. Eventually, the decision came down to me figuring out what I wanted to do, but I can attest this happened because of help from the people I chose to surround myself with. Some key examples:
- My freshman academic adviser who reminded me to “breathe” as I explored the different classes and majors.
- My program directors who gave me various opportunities such as attending the Men of Color Empower Summit. This helped me see my identity as an Asian man with a greater sense of purpose in becoming an agent of demographic and cultural awareness.
- The professors and program coordinators who took time out of their day to sit down and talk to me about their journeys and suggestions in figuring out career choices.
These are just the few, but because of those people, I have a clearer view of who I am. I am an Asian-American man who will continue to create awareness about my culture and identity. I am a student who will uphold academic excellence and multicultural campus involvement. I am going to find a career path that will let me lead and manage others towards a common goal.
I wish I came in knowing how to reach out for help and how to surround myself with people who are willing to help. I wish the broader campus knew how difficult it is for me, an Asian-American, to find his place in an institution where barely anybody looks like him. How difficult it is to figure out how he should present his culture and still feel like he belongs in an indifferent environment. What I have learned from this ongoing experience is that the journey should be enjoyed rather than stressing about the future or end goal. I realized that the way I learn how to overcome these battles are much more satisfying than the end result because it is those experiences that I can take with myself later on in life.
The main takeaway is that not knowing is part of the journey and part of life. To walk by blind faith means that you have the courage to trust yourself and the process. That courage has allowed me to seek for help and experiences that will eventually lead me to where I want to be. I don’t know where that is still (career wise) but I think that the important thing is to know the journey first because it is apparent that the journey is what leads you to the end goal.