All teenagers are rebels, that’s why Exeter Summer School is a 5-week experience — for these rebels to rebel against everything in a new environment, because we teens are all rebels. That was an example of a stereotype, a commonly known belief regarding an individual or group.
As July 3rd approached, students from 43 states and 47 countries headed off to the same location, Phillips Exeter Academy. They brought their personalities, academic talent and their story along with them to this campus. However, these students could have also brought stereotypes regarding other groups, unintentionally — or even some of themselves — to be sure to fight against.
To fear being judged by a stereotype, is known as stereotype threat. It could be when a black teen comes to class 15 minutes early because she doesn’t want her peers to believe that black people can never be on time. For a white teen, it could be staying out of the sun, because she doesn’t want her peers to believe she loves tanning, when in actuality, she does.
Like Exeter summer students, people all over the world face stereotypes, and others enforcing them onto them. Stereotypes don’t only apply to race, but also to gender, age, height, weight, and just about anything else. There are stereotypes that students may have faced or feared to face this summer.
Jenely Ramirez, an upper school student, faced stereotypes of being from New York and Hispanic. When she said she lives in Manhattan, most responded by questioning if she lived near 42nd street. Moreover, because she is Dominican, when there is Spanish music playing, peers at Exeter expected her to be dancing with others. Lastly, others often assume she’s very loud since she is Dominican, when she is actually very soft-spoken and calm.
Illinca Ledan, is French and a vegetarian who is rising sophomore. As she met new people during the summer, she revealed she was a vegetarian. Her peers would enforce the stereotype that all vegetarians are only vegetarians in order to lose weight, which wasn’t the case for Ledan. While others acted in shock and questioned, “What is wrong with you?” as if there is something wrong with vegetarians.
Catherine He is an American who knows a few stereotypes of Americans. She, herself said that it is commonly known that Americans are loud, vulgar and profane, which she believes is a description of her quite well. Her final thought about it was “It makes me very proud to be an American.” Although this stereotype matches her personality, it does not mean it is an accurate reflection of all Americans.
Vasileia Louzi is from Athens, Greece. She described a time where people assumed she did not have money due to the current economic crisis going on in Greece. They told her, “Well of course you don’t [have money], you’re from Greece.” Louzi stated that some people are being serious while others joke about it. Either way, her responses are in a joking-manner back to them.
There are also others who just experience remarks that allude to stereotypes. Zoe K. recalled being asked “How’s the weed?” because she is from Washington, the state. Cecilia Atieno is from Kenya, and people questioned her, “Do you have cars?” or “Do you live in trees or huts?” While some experienced stereotypes being applied to them, others were asked questions that connected to stereotypes.
As Exeter Summer School comes to an end, reflect if you have enforced, fought against or believed stereotypes of the students here.