How do we start living the Wisconsin Idea?

by MSC Student Life Intern, Kathleen

Wisconsin Idea Banner on Bascom Hall via University Communications

The Wisconsin Idea is the principle that UW-Madison faculty, staff, and students are recognized contributors to the Wisconsin Idea through their work “beyond the boundaries of campus to benefit the state, nation, and world.”

I have a feeling that we don’t all completely live up to the Wisconsin Idea 100% of the time. I believe we have room for growth. Amidst stories about Beyonce, Facebook posts pleading for another Candy Crush life, there are so many things happening in the world. For example, have you heard about what is happening right now with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)? ISIS is targeting Christian indigenous groups, one being the group I belong to, the Assyrians.

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To help those affected by ISIS, please visit assyrianaid.org

I know that when people on campus don’t know about ISIS or who Assyrians are, I get a little disappointed. I try to explain to them Assyrians are one of the oldest civilizations known to mankind. In Wisconsin we have a large Hmong population, so sometimes it helps to talk about the similarities of the Assyrian experience and the Hmong experience. We are both a nation. The legal definition of a nation being a distinct group of people that speak the same language and have the same customs that possess historic continuity and are distinguished from other similar groups by their origins and characteristics.

That was a lot of information thrown at you, but don’t you feel like you learned something new? Don’t you feel well informed? Aren’t you curious about other ways you can learn more? Here are three suggestions to help us all get closer to achieving the Wisconsin Idea:

  1. Learning other people’s history can help you understand your own. Before I came to Wisconsin, I had no idea who the Hmong people were. When I found out, I invested my time in learning more by taking Asian American Studies classes. While in these classes, I learned a great deal about similar historical experiences of the Assyrian and Hmong people including statelessness.
  2. There are always multiple sides to a story. What I usually do is Google search “world news” or if I want to know more about a specific country or nation I substitute the word “world” with the country or nation’s name. Because there are so many sides to a story, I like to get as many perspectives as I can, and I find that Google searching “world news” provides me with an array of sources. What works for me may not work for you, so I encourage you all to find the news sources that you enjoy and use that as a place for reference when you’re feeling uninformed or just bored. There are many ways to gain information within our technologically advanced world like Facebook, Twitter, BuzzFeed, Instagram, and so on. If you’re always on Facebook, feel free to check out the United Nations Facebook page to see what’s going on in the world. Or if you’re bored and just taking up time taking BuzzFeed quizzes to get to know yourself better, you can check out the BuzzFeed news section to get to know the world a little better.
  3. Even though we could know a lot about what’s going on in the world, we can’t know everything. Just because I took an intro to Asian American Studies class doesn’t mean I understand the full history or experience of Asian American people. Similarly, just because my parents tell me what my family in Iraq is going through in the Middle East, doesn’t mean that I have the complete picture.  There will always be more information and more to learn.

What we can do is try to inform ourselves to the best of our abilities, and luckily we have the beauty of living in the age of technology to help us do that! Happy reading!

Doggy Using Computer

 

 

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