By Su Wen Liew
Studying at Hurtwood is not only a privilege, but it is also a gateway to other opportunities - that is, if you make use of them.
From a student’s perspective, I think that many of us receive the bigoted typecast of the “rich girl” or “rich boy” as a result of our backgrounds. When accounting for those who do make use of these opportunities presented by the school, they are continuously subject to conjectures that unfairly define them as negligent and arrogant teenagers who lack any sense of ambition. This is an endemic ‘syndrome’ which suggests that all of us are situated in our own perpetuated cycle of inherited wealth and comfort; but there are some who do have ambitions that they hope to achieve.
We are not all ungrateful for what we have and it should be recognised that there is actually quite a handful of us who aspire to excel in our A-Levels and carry on to university to receive a degree. Affluence does not automatically mean that someone intends to spend the rest of their life dependent upon inherited money: it is how we ourselves want to utilise the opportunities we have.
At the end of the day, it is about the individual and what they want to make of their lives. Others should not loosely associate the term “rich guy” or “rich girl” with the expectation of us being spoilt brats when really there is much about our lives, and indeed us as people, that you fail to understand.
Within a wider context, if we think about this one label that is inked onto us permanently, there are so many other designations that are applicable to the rest of us. Not only are we critiqued for having a supposed, overzealous desire for luxury, but there are also other classifications that attempt to define us by our character, our mannerisms and our backgrounds.
The most unfortunate part is that these judgments are passed casually and then acknowledged as the truth - as if they are a reality because of the acceptance given to them. It happens so often that it seems no longer be considered as a real cause of concern. For instance, students living abroad such as myself encounter many forms of prejudice regarding their appearance. Although this marginalisation is only subtle, it doesn’t mean that it ceases to be there. Other examples range from gender inequality to even being labelled as introverted or extroverted.
Everywhere you look and whatever you do, we are simply put into sub-categories that then seemingly define who we are. In a more clichéd sense, why are we not able to be who we are? There is a persistent necessity to label things, to catalogue people and treat them like they aren’t human. It becomes a social, political and economic distinction that catalyses the tension that occurs between groups like these. Our differences which are interrelated with our typecasts, become the source of many of our frustrations and annoyances. The main issue could potentially be that the normality of such narrow-minded attitudes have increased our acceptance of them as we simply believe that there is nothing that can be done to reverse this process of intolerance.
So why bother if we can’t change these perceptions? But this only makes the matter worse as it ‘normalises’ a matter which should be treated with caution. Instead, these attitudes should be challenged in an alternative manner. Without ignoring these presuppositions or feeling angry, we need to remember that these opinions derive from a lack of understanding or awareness of the global community. Individuals form their opinions based on their exposure to certain issues, which then feeds to their perception of the problem’s significance on a larger, societal scale. Educating those who carelessly stamp labels onto other people should be one of the ways in which we deal with this unjust stereotyping. In a world which allows misconceptions to breed due to a paucity of knowledge, we should at least try to inhibit its spread by doing what we can: attempting to explain that there is more to the world than their reductive suppositions.