This week I wanted to reflect on the different discussions I have had with various friends, family, and acquaintances about the content of the class and how already the experiences I have had are challenging my way of thinking and influencing the conversations I have with people. Prior to this class my knowledge of most genocides and refugee camps was a surface level affair. Even now I know that I have still barely scratched the surface of the large pool of knowledge surrounding genocide and advocacy.
One thing I have noticed though that lifted my spirits is how much my passion for this topic has helped spark the interests of other people in my life. I am the kind of person that when I find a topic I am passionate about, it will take a lot of effort to get me to stop talking. My best friend in particular still needs to remind me to slow down and breathe sometimes. But recently she commented to me about how fascinating it is to watch me talk about this class and the ideas we talk about because for once, I have actually slowed down enough that she can get a word in. Which is something I am glad to hear because I have had some amazing conversations about genocide and refugees with her. I call her almost every Wednesday night after our class and we just catch up and talk about the new content I was just exposed to. I really enjoy it because I have found that by reflecting on the material with someone outside of our class bubble because I can see how much the information is sticking with me and I can pass the knowledge on to my friend. At first the conversations were not as fluid because it was mostly me explaining as much of the background information as I could so she could begin to understand similarly to how we began this class. But now we are having conversations that are so exciting to me because I feel like this new topic is one that we won’t just stop talking about. She has told me that she tells her family and friends about our conversations and it just makes me happy to see that people actually care when they take the time to understand.
There are many elements to this class that are hard to take in. I have felt, guilty, horrified, sad, pessimistic, hopeful, confused, and countless other emotions, in what seems to be a never-ending cycle of good and bad. And despite all the bad, and despite the fact that change takes time, talking to my friend, receiving articles from my dad about topics I’ve mentioned to him that he researched in his free time, learning from people like Rebecca, Suzie, and Paul leaves me with a sense of hope that helps combat the bad. I like to think I’m not naïve about this hope, I know that it will probably get shaken up at times but hearing from Suzie last week that we must share the stories we hear in such a powerful way by such an inspiring person definitely increases my hope that we can make a difference by sharing the stories we will hear. I am so excited for the adventure we will be setting out on this Saturday and I feel more confident going into this trip knowing that while me knowledge is nowhere near complete, I have the understanding and capability to learn from the people we will meet and do our part by sharing the stories they will privilege us to hear.