‘You can’t be a racist if you travel’

Maria Alsubhi of Englewood

By Taylore Todd
Special for Colorado Community Media
Posted 12/18/18

Maria Alsubhi, 19, was born in Saudi Arabia and moved to the United States when she was in eighth grade. Because of her dad’s love of exploring, Alsubhi has traveled to seven countries throughout …

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‘You can’t be a racist if you travel’

Maria Alsubhi of Englewood

Posted

Maria Alsubhi, 19, was born in Saudi Arabia and moved to the United States when she was in eighth grade. Because of her dad’s love of exploring, Alsubhi has traveled to seven countries throughout Europe and Asia. She is a freshman at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has goals to serve others. She frequently shadows public health officials, doctors and those working for nonprofits so that she can learn as much as she can about how to make a difference later in life.

If you knew me, you would know ...

“My family, we travel a lot. We’ve gone to parts of Asia and parts of Europe. Just seeing the way these people live and experiencing a different way of life helps you be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes a lot easier. It helps you connect with others more and then you can find a different network. For me, personally, it helps me connect with people if I can put myself in their shoes and understand where they’re coming from. Coming from a completely different background than the life I’m living right now really has expanded upon my ability to do that. I’m grateful for it.

“My number one belief is `You can’t be a racist if you travel.’ I went to Thailand when I was a kid, and it was the most amazing experience ever, so I got really into Asian culture. There is something beautiful about every single part of the world, and if you choose to focus on that, rather than the ugly statistics, perhaps it helps you kind of be a more well-rounded person and more well-spoken and more understanding.”

How I want to change the world

“The best way to understand other people is to talk to them. There’s a difference between tourism and actually understanding and meeting the locals … Try to understand where people are coming from and the reasons why they have the beliefs that they do and the reasons why they’ve gotten to the places that they’re in.

“Careerwise, I am very passionate about healthcare access and affordability … I feel like here, especially in the States, the bill that you’re going to get after you visit the hospital just makes it so terrifying to go and heal yourself … I want healthcare to be affordable and accessible to everybody whether you’re middle class, the top 1 percent or socio-economically disadvantaged.”

Why my voice is important

“No one ever goes outside and thinks, `Oh, today I’m going to be evil.’ There is a reason why people believe what they believe, and when you get to the root of that, that’s when change can happen ... People are filled with anger when they don’t have anyone that’s listening to them. Maybe my message is just to listen.

“Considering the fact that 24 percent of the U.S. population is under age 18, young voices make up a giant chunk of those living in this country, and they are widely underrepresented and misunderstood because they are just labeled as ‘kids who have learning and maturing to do.’ This is dangerous because it leaves no one listening to powerful young voices that are attempting to represent the new generations. We cannot just repress and patronize them — it is frustrating and unfair that we already do ... Listening just expands perspectives, especially listening to a young, excited, refreshing voice.”

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