By Lindsay Stevens

Around the world, millions of fans feel passionate about their love for BTS, despite never having had any contact with the band. The reason: BTS has achieved the most incredible heights for any Korean act in history, all while in their native language if you do not know the world-phenomenon Korean-pop group. 

 Since becoming a fan in 2018, I never once have felt disconnected from their art because of the language and cultural differences we have. Rather, BTS has simultaneously educated and inspired me to eliminate these barriers, illuminating the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in daily life. 

 In 2019, I got the opportunity to see them live at MetLife Stadium on their love Yourself: Speak Yourself Tour. My experience remains unforgettable because it was my first time seeing the band live, but because they give their all when performing. The degree of choreography, vocals, and stage presence was something I had never witnessed before, and I only wish this pandemic resolves soon so that millions of us fans can see such talent once again.  

 Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area exposed me to diverse cultural environments very early in life. However, I grew up in a monolingual and monocultural household in American Suburbia. Now, as a 20-year-old studying medicine in New York City, I find myself actively craving diversity and cultural environments to engage in because I want to be able to both understand and console people regardless of the language they speak.

We are all humans who feel the same notions of wanting to be loved and perceived by others. Therefore diversity in our lives should be encouraged and embraced to ensure we can better understand one another. 

My experience as a BTS fan is something that I am forever grateful for, in that they to this day provide me with such joy and happiness in the art they create.

I truly believe finding BTS has wholly shaped me into a proactive person who yearns for and advocates for multiculturalism in all environments, social and professional at all times, something I will carry with me the rest of my life.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Korean director Bong Joon-ho after winning best picture for his foreign film, Parasite, in 2020: “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, will be introduced you to so many more amazing films.” From Bong and so many others with this like-mindset, they are spot on in that language is inconsequential to hold us back from enjoying the beauty in life our differences create.

All it takes to open the world up to one’s self-understanding of others is to believe that actively respecting and embracing our differences makes us stronger and more beautiful. 

Hi! My name is Lindsay Stevens, and I am a Class of 2023 Pace University student majoring in health-science and pre-physician assistant studies. I have always loved the study of linguistics since I was a kid, whether it was watching a foreign-show or film, singing songs from around the world in choir, or learning a new language for the fun of it. Immersing myself in other languages and cultures has taught me patience, understanding, and compassion for those who do not share the same privilege as myself to speak and understand English. That is why I am eager to one day directly apply my gained academic and life experiences in linguistics and diverse culture to my medical career because I want to be able to communicate with as many people possible. By this, I am hopeful I will be able to eliminate language and cultural barriers for those I encounter both inside and outside of the hospital. Relationships should not be restricted or controlled by the differences in our identities and through my practices I hope to perhaps inspire and educate others of this matter, just as someone did for me.