A Place of Unity

Exquisite sculptures, striking paintings and arresting drawings. A rich history lies within these lofty marble walls in the heart of the nation’s capital since its establishment in 1968. This is the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where master artists like Georgia O’ Keefe and Christo tell the American story through their works. This engaging aura is also present outside on 8th and F Street NW, where residents, passer-biers and tourists mingle collectively along the buildings’ stairs. Stories are also told here, perhaps a recap of the day’s fun or reminiscent memories from high school. This is a special place of gathering that is here to stay.

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The UMBC Melting Pot

Sitting in The Commons on a weekday afternoon will usually offer a decent reflection of the student population at UMBC. Students are always either rushing to class, grabbing some lunch or chatting it up with their friends. There’s your occasional loner reading the daily newspaper or gazing into their glossy laptop screen. A distinct mixture of aromas constantly lingers in the air; scents of onion and spices from Mexican cuisine along with tangy scents from the days featured chicken dish at Jow Jing.

The dreadfully long lines that the lunch hour brings have shortened with an exception of the Salsarita’s line expanding and shrinking on and off. The sounds of friendly mingling range in volume, some conversations more private than others. Students might stop in their path to class for a quick hello and goodbye while others sit in groups discussing their anticipated weekend line-up of fun.

The fluorescent display of international flags hangs high above the long centered wooden tables creating the perfect visual array of diversity. Despite the unifying aura offered from the flags above, the same aura seems to be lacking down below. Individuals tend to cling to those most similar to themselves, creating little cliques; the “Commons Cliques”. You have your Greek life crews who gather at one table all matching in apparel representing which sorority or fraternity they commit to. Then you have your hipsters playing the latest music aloud with friends or with their Beats by Dre headphones draped over their ears. You have your techy Mac book kids who are all off in one corner glued to their laptops isolated from the world. Finally you have your lunch loners-those simply in The Commons to eat and proceed with their day.

It is safe to say that people gravitate to those they are relatable to. Being in The Commons on a weekday afternoon is a prime example of this, as students stick to who they know or the crowd most analogous to themselves, for the most part. And with this pattern, the “Commons Cliques” may never melt away.