How Rowing Changed My Life - David Alviar
Rowing has introduced me to my best friends, the people I most admire, and a greater variety of experience and cultural backgrounds than any other passion in my life. My coxswain was a Boston-born Pakistani, my pair partner was an Irish-Ethiopian giant, and my best friend was a small-town-Texas gay athlete. The diversity of our team is common to rowing team across the country; no matter what we believe, how we politically align, where our families come from, or who we choose to love, rowing teams are places of acceptance. This acceptance is what makes boats win; it allows eights to meld and flow together, fours to act as one unit, and pairs to steer straight.
I didn’t come to realize how important these lessons from crew were until after college. The tolerance crew gave me for accepting other people’s way of life and genuinely being interested in those differences gave me the mental and emotional resolve to handle diversity in my job. I now actively seek out friends because of their uniqueness, backgrounds, and experiences that separate distinguish them from my life. Not only does this enrich my own experience but also prevents one of the biggest problems: getting stuck in your own in-group.
In-groups are often echos. They only repeat what you already know, believe, and feel. The out-group is where new ideas are discovered and fresh opinions made. Crew taught me to seek out the out-group, embrace those differences, and be better for them. Even though rowing might have the stigma of being a white-elitist activity, it is anything but in the 21st-century. Crew will introduce you to a unique mix of new kinds of people all bound together by acceptance for who you are as you are in order to make those boats row smoothly, race fast, and win.
David Alviar is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Accelerate Learning, Inc. He is a graduate of the University of Texas with majors in economics, philosophy and Spanish, was a corps member in the Houston Teach for America in 2009, and is world record holder in the Guinness Book of World Records as a member the first trio to cross the Atlantic Ocean east to west.