As I read this theory, I kept saying to myself "That would never be me. I’d never keep silent, even when I think I’m the minority." I’ve always seen myself as opinionated, outspoken, and direct. Clearly I would favor accommodation but I won’t cave in and just assimilate or pull away and separate. In my heart of hearts, I think that I wouldn’t bow down to the pressure, I’d stand my ground. I looked at the strategies of accommodation and I think they all seem reasonably easy to do—I would be open, seek like-minded people, and genuinely try to build bridges between myself and the others.
This was all well and good in theory. But in practice, it was harder than I expected. Last summer, I was on a two-week intensive study-abroad program in South America. I didn’t go with any of my buddies—it was just me and a bunch of people I didn’t know. Quickly I figured out that I wasn’t in the majority. I am an evangelical Christian—and most of the people in the program were staunchly non-religious or vaguely spiritual but not into organized religion. I am a political conservative—and everyone else was very liberal. I am studious—and really wanted to expand my academic and cultural horizons on this trip when everyone else seems to value drinking and partying over study sessions and coffee.
If I had done what I thought I would, based on Orbe’s theory, I would have tried to create links between us and I would have held onto my values while still connecting with them. Instead, I spent most of the two weeks by myself. As soon as the group sessions finished, I would go out of my way to take walks by the river in solitude and avoided sitting with others at meals. I just wanted to give myself a buffer, a wall between me and them. Even though they were the more powerful group (and there was more of them), I realize I opted for separation instead of assimilation. The way I took a stand was by getting away from them altogether.