The vitality of differences


Rachel Koopersmith, staff writer

This past summer, I went on a Spanish immersion and service trip to various places in Costa Rica. Throughout this trip,  I rekindled my love of service, met some of my closest friends, and had a wonderful time. While I could talk for hours about how invaluable this experience was for me, I plan to take this column in an alternative direction. 

On June. 24, Roe v Wade was overturned. I discovered this through the news channel that was constantly on during my homestay. Not only was I shocked, but my host family seemed to be as well. While abortion is illegal in nearly all situations in Costa Rica, they assumed things were different in the United States. 

As I arrived at La Casona, the home base for our group of volunteers,  the room was buzzing with unspoken tension. The abortion ban was at the forefront of our discussion. Absent of our phones or any electronics on the trip, this was the first time many were hearing the news. 

I expected our perspectives to be similar, despite the fact that we hailed from locations all over the United States and around the world. However,  as the discussion evolved, it became clear that while we were all sixteen to eighteen years old, and all opted-in to the same program for many of the same reasons, we brought several different belief systems to the conversation.

I found that my friends’ worldviews varied greatly based on where and how they were raised, as well as their religious backgrounds and beliefs. While I may disagree with some of my friends’ beliefs, after hearing more about their backgrounds and reasoning, I was able to better understand their perspectives.

While a bit uncomfortable at times, following this discussion, our group became more unified and more comfortable with one another. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable during an emotionally heavy time led us to become stronger friends. 

It is through moments like these that I have recognized the vitality of engaging in conversation with those who differ in beliefs and opinions from myself. Not only has it made me more empathetic, but I also believe that more interactions like these will educate and enhance my worldview.