How the UNC shooting demonstrates the value of multiculturalism
“I truly believe that exposure to different cultures and belief systems is what’s going to make this world a peaceful place and stop the kind of hatred, ignorance, and intolerance that led to the murder of Our Three Winners”
Madison Heginbotham is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and also the Local Committee President for AIESEC, an international youth-led non-profit that works towards the mission of peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential by facilitating a global exchange programme and providing practical leadership experiences.
I worked backstage of the vigil that was held on the University of North Carolina’s campus the night after three students- Deah, Yusor, and Razan- were killed.
Even though all I did was pass out tissues and keep people from crossing under stanchions, simply being present, in a crowd of thousands, was an indescribable experience. So many community members had gathered to support one another and celebrate the lives of Our Three Winners; you couldn’t see the end of the crowd in either direction. There was just a sea of candlelight that stretched throughout the heart of campus.
“Members of all faiths, nationalities, races, age, and communities came together as one, proving that there really can be beauty in darkness”
As words of courage, peace, and strength passed over the crowd from the family and friends of the victims, I never felt more proud to be a UNC Tar Heel. Members of all faiths, nationalities, races, age, and communities came together as one, proving that there really can be beauty in darkness.
Campus has most definitely felt different since that Tuesday. A mix of both heartbreak and inspiration. Heartbreak: over the lives lost, the hatred and intolerance behind their murder, and the loss felt by all those whose lives had been touched by the victims. Inspiration: from the selfless lives they led, the amazing strength of the family they left behind, and the community’s ability to band together through tragedy.
As a UNC student, I’m shown every day that people of all walks of life can thrive together. Having worked event production for our Student Union, I got to see the beauty of cultural and religious events attended by such a diverse range of students. Most students go to show support of their friends performing or simply to learn more about a culture outside of their own.
“Having internationals in our classes and student organisations brings a new perspective to the world around us”
We also have a high number of students studying abroad here at UNC. Having internationals in our classes and student organisations brings a new perspective to the world around us.
This kind of global mindset and tolerance is why I’m so passionate about the organization I’m a part of, AIESEC. I truly believe that exposure to different cultures and belief systems is what’s going to make this world a peaceful place and stop the kind of hatred, ignorance, and intolerance that led to the murder of Our Three Winners. I truly believe that exchange, cultural immersion, and celebration of our differences is what’s going to prevent anything like this tragedy from happening again.
And that is why I dedicate so much time and effort to AIESEC, and why AIESECers in general are so driven. We know that change starts with people. It doesn’t start with policy changes. It doesn’t start with more laws, or heightened security, or angry fights between cultures and belief systems. It starts with the individuals, with the community, with the mindset that is able to love our differences rather than fear them.
“Change starts with the individuals, with the community, with the mindset that is able to love our differences rather than fear them”
Even in death, the impact of Our Three Winners’ lives continues. Thousands who didn’t even know them in life, including myself, are inspired to carry on their legacy. They are proof that love and kindness, in the end, is stronger than hate. This proof is what has been prevailing on this campus and the campuses in the Raleigh-Durham area.
I’m proud to see that fellow Tar Heels have been focusing on the good of Our Three Winners, rather than the bad of a single man. The voices and hearts from the thousands are speaking louder than the gunshots from one.