I’m absolutely enamored of my political science professors on Semester at Sea. Their brilliance, experience, and dedication to the classroom is nearly unmatched. Being so, I was absolutely thrilled when met with the opportunity to sit on a panel with them on Friday, January 20, 2017.
The event was titled “Where Does America Go From Here?”
Inauguration Day is here. Come and engage in a dialogue with staculty and students as we discuss the future of America. There will be a space for all to reflect on what this day means to them.”
“Where does America go from here?” is a question I’ve attempted to answer on many occasions through a variety of means, and ultimately have yet to produce an affirmative answer. It’s certainly a tough question—one that exists on both individual and group levels. Yet, as a panel, we were able to pool our collective consciousness and take on some of the nation’s challenges reflectively.
The panel consisted of four professors and three students. We never anticipated drawing a large crowd, and even prepared several questions to discuss among ourselves in case the audience didn’t have any. Our predictions couldn’t have been any farther from reality: attendance was outstanding and the audience was engaged.
Hundreds of students, along with lifelong learners and other staculty, filed into Kaisersaal to watch the robust dialogue. The event was only scheduled to last for an hour but ended up extending over two hours. While the panel certainly tilted left, we represented a multiplicity of backgrounds, ideologies, and convictions.
Students asked amazing questions. Many of the questions left me in deep contemplation. Some of the questions were passionately posed. Some of the questions asked weren’t questions at all, but passionate monologues that offered narratives of military service, familial immigration success, and commitment to social justice.
Ultimately it was a great experience. Having a slight fear or audiences and public speaking, I really appreciated having the opportunity to overcome my fears and anxiety. I opened my monologue with a quote from one of my favorite public servants, Senator Cory Booker. Appropriately, I finished it the same way.
What we need now, more than anything else, are people who are willing to do the difficult work of bridging gaps and healing wounds, people in our communities who can rally others together, across lines of division, for the greater good, people who reject cynicism and winner-take-all politics, and instead embrace the more difficult work this generation now faces: to unite our country in common cause.