Daughter of Nobel Prize winner and former Archbishop of South Africa Desmond Tutu called on students at Tallahassee Community College to seek common ground. Nontombi Naomi Tutu spoke Monday night in honor of International Education Week.
About 300 faculty members and students greeted Tutu with a round of applause as she graced the stage at the TCC Student Union Ballroom.
Tutu spoke about her life experiences growing up during the apartheid era in South Africa, where segregation was legal until 1994. She encouraged individuals from different races and religions to find a common ground, even when the governing powers fight against it.
“The aim was to divide us as a people based on our race. It told white South Africans that they were somehow special, somehow better, than other south Africans and to try to teach the rest of us we were somehow less than fully human,” Tutu, said.
However, Tutu’s mission as the keynote speaker was to spread positive energy to students on campus as she told them to embrace differences, be they race or religion.
“We are all people made with different gifts and different challenges,” said Tutu. “Difference offers an opportunity and difference is a new way of seeing the aspect of the world.”
Prior to Tutu’s, the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an African dance ensemble joined by live percussionists entertained speech students.
“I honestly was here studying, and I saw the drummers jamming and I was like, I need to check this out so that’s what caught my attention,” said Stephen Baker a freshman at TCC.”
For one international student who traveled all the way from Columbia to the U.S. to attend TCC he felt really connected with Tutu. He said, as a freshman stepping outside of his comfort zone was definitely a challenge.
“I feel like when you just go out of your home country you kind of look at everything in a wider perspective and you kind of understand other cultures better than the people that live in the same country all the time it’s kind of like they have horse blinds on,” Carlos Galindo, 20, an international business student from Columbia.
But according to Naomi individuals who have challenges meeting new people she encouraged everyone to be open minded and “hear everyone’s story and how it’s different and how it’s the same.”
“We need to start asking questions and we may realize we are not that different,” said Brittney Boykins, assistant English professor. “When someone comes up to us and ask us a question, why do we do that, we feel like they are attacking us when they may just want to know who we are.”
International Education Week is a worldwide event launched by the U.S Department of State and U.S Department of Education to bring students to the U.S. to study, learn and exchange experiences.
“I think everybody should open up and listen to other people and get to know people from other countries and get to know about their culture,” said Galindo. “They will be able to see there are a lot of nice people and it’s really awesome.”