Education as a group activity

Education is a Group Activity There is a Japanese proverb that reminds us that ‘none of us is as smart as all of us’. My educational challenges and the resulting successes have been a constant reminder of these simple words. I came to the United States from my native Russia and enrolled in my junior year without being able to fully understand, speak, or write English. The language barrier was further complicated by my cultural differences that left me groping for appropriate behavior and adequate responses. I struggled through the first days, but soon gained the cooperation of my classmates as they acquired my trust. Working together I was able to learn English and they became more familiar with Russia. My experience has taught me that learning does not only take place while we are alone with a book, but that education is a group activity.
The cooperation of my classmates and instructors was vital to my educational progress. There were days when I was frustrated by slowing the class down as they took the extra time to explain a concept to me. Still, they persisted and did not leave me to flounder in a sea of confusion. My teachers spent extra time during and after class to be sure that I had an understanding of the material. As their unselfish help supported me, it also provided a foundation for the trust that I had placed in them. I could ask questions without fear of being labeled silly or feeling out of place. Learning became a two way street where cooperation was the rule of the road.
As I became more integrated into the class and became more fluent in English, I began to realize how diverse America really was. I gained an appreciation for the bountiful knowledge that we learn from each other and from our cultural backgrounds. I suddenly found that I was not alone in being different, from a different country, and a different world. We were all different and we were all learning from each other. The English language may have been a common denominator, but diversity was the essence of its meaning.
I have always been attracted to the universal languages of music and sports and hope to bring this to my classmates at the University of Florida. I pursued these endeavors and have come to gain some level of excellence at them. Whether we listen to a passage by Rimsky-Korsakov or Aaron Copeland, we understand the emotion and the ideas contained in the music. The athletic excellence of the Olympic Games needs no translation and is understood around the world. Ideas and concepts are also a universal language. Justice, compassion, and truth are universal. I look forward to exploring the universal ways that we communicate and learn from each other.
The challenges I faced as a struggling student in the 11th grade were not faced alone. The school, the teachers, and my fellow students also met these hurdles. Together we became better students and better citizens of the world. The University of Florida would be a rewarding opportunity for me to continue to celebrate our differences while appreciating our universal common bonds. I owe my current and continued academic success to my former teachers and classmates. After all, we do not learn in a vacuum apart from the world. Education is a group activity.