September 16, 2012
Assimilation: Become or Be Left Behind
Assimilation. It happens every day; all around the world. Assimilation can be loosely defined as the process a minority group gradually adopts the customs and attitudes of a larger group. It can be something as major as moving to a foreign country and learning the customs and the culture of the indigenous people and adopting them as your own, or as simple as getting in the habit of waking earlier due to a change in your work schedule. Assimilation is summarized in many cliche, such as, ???When in Rome, do as the Romans do.???, or, you have to go along to get along.??? But as a student, do you have to assimilate to be successful in college I believe you do. In order to succeed in your field of study, one must fully immerse themselves in all facets of that field. A successful student must learn to express themselves in a manner that is both understood and acceptable to the people in their field of choice. According to Kevin Davis, author of ???Does Coming to College Mean Becoming Someone New???, ???our writing has to look like the writing in the community is supposed to look??? (Davis pg. 119).
Success also means you must learn to think like the others in your profession of choice. You have to be able to look at issues and draw conclusions using the point of view of the group in question. Davis states that, ???New ways of thinking usually develop easily through repeated contact.??? (Davis pg. 119). Simply stated, if your surround yourself with a certain group of people, eventually you will start to think alike. The final hurdle in the process of assimilation into the community you hope to become part of is a whole hearted embracement of the views and beliefs of the members of this community. It is not enough to be able to talk, write, and think like the others. You have to believe that what is being talked, written, and thought about is true. If the student fails or refuses this adaptation, he or she will find it difficult, if not impossible to fully understand the ideas and concepts of other members of this field.
I found that when I first enlisted in the Navy that I could use naval terms and jargon, just as other sailors did. I could wear a uniform and cut my hair like every other sailor I saw. But this alone did not make me a true sailor. It was not until I grasped the Navy core values and adopted them in my day to day activities, did I truly become a sailor. Kevin Davis explains it this way; ???Students can develop the sound of a community and apply the thought process of the community without adopting the world views of the community, without truly accepting membership in that community??? (Davis pg. 119).
Without this threefold process of assimilation into a given group, I believe the student will find it extremely difficult to be accepted into this group and there will be misunderstandings on both sides. If there is no comfort zone of belief and acceptance, the student may find themselves left behind.