This past week in South Texas has been an insightful learning experience – both in my work on the project and during free time. One of the places I spent the most time was at the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) in Edinburg. Though our first few days were rainy and about 40 degrees, the campus was beautiful. Tall palm trees, buildings with interesting architecture, and striking sculptures covered the campus.
On our first cold and rainy day at UTPA, there were not too many students walking around campus. Inside the Student Union, students were studying in groups at some of the chairs and tables. Come lunchtime, the Student Union became bustling with activity. Every chair was filled, and students lined the hallway – sitting on the floor while laughing and eating with their friends. Downstairs, there was a brass instrument band filling the air with animated melodies. In another corner, students were taking a break from their studies to watch a TV show while they quickly ate their lunches.
At this moment, I was struck by the similarities between UTPA and University of Michigan. The laughing friends, talented musicians, and students searching for a quick bite could be seen at both campuses (though, perhaps in different forms, to different degrees, and at different times). The different student organizations advertising their upcoming event or social justice campaign could also be seen at either university.
Overall, inside the Student Union, various social networks of students were visible. These students seemed to be providing one another with various forms of social support. Their laughter acted as a sign of their emotional support and their comments on one another’s class presentation provided an example of appraisal support. Though it may have been cold and raining outside, I never would have known when looking at the lively, energetic environment inside the Student Union.