Pundits are replete with answers addressing the reasons for the election results.
Too often engagement and dialogue are viewed as an occasion to change another’s mind: it’s a chance to make arguments (at times logical, but more often emotional) to convert someone to your camp.
Although some people would contend that is needed, we must promote shared understanding and not conversion right now for our nation to move forward.
You will not only share who you are, but also take in what others have to offer.
Your unique culture to highlight could be based on your personality, ethnic background, family dynamic, or an extracurricular passion project.
But we learned something about our nation as a result of the presidential election that has caused me to reflect on whether the emphasis on international exchange has come at the expense of achieving important domestic understanding.
Like a couple who spend little time with each other and instead seek individual pursuits, then wake up one morning realizing they no longer have much in common, Americans woke up the day after the election realizing that they no longer knew one another.The Department of State has given the following as examples of appropriate exchange activities: International Scholars Operations also encourages individual exchange visitors to seek out additional opportunities for exchange outside of their sponsoring department.President Obama, as part of his swan song, recently traveled overseas, touting the benefits of international engagement and study abroad.In international exchange, the emphasis is cultural.The objective of going abroad is not to learn from other exchange students (although this happens), but rather to learn about how people in local and culturally rich environments live: what their struggles, hopes and values are.In mid-November we also celebrated International Education Week, sponsored by the U. Department of State to advance global understanding.As a college educator for over 30 years, as well as someone who was a U. Fulbright Scholar (and now has a son in the Peace Corps), I believe the benefits of international education are incontrovertible.But I do have one idea of where we might go from here, or a way of helping our couple -- blue America and red America -- to get to know each other again.We should establish a national exchange program for American college students that takes them from their often comfortable environments and provides them with the opportunity to get to know people in other parts of the country and in different settings.When trying to define yourself, consider your intersectionality: you are not only a teenager, but are also from a certain family, community, or part of the world and represent a slice of life that others may have never known.Embrace your unique nature and and take some time to appreciate that others need what you have to offer, and vice versa.