I’m currently studying abroad in Israel at the University of Haifa and have been here about two months. In that time I have seen where Jesus lived and died, visited sites holy to millions across the globe of many faiths, and experienced history stretching back thousands of years. It has been truly awe-inspiring.
Among it all, though, I believe the most memorable and impacting moments will still stem from the people I have met along the way and the profound conversations we have had. And for that, I need to thank Kate and LCM.
Within days of being in this new country, I found myself in deep conversations about religion, politics, identity, all extending far past the surface chit-chat that generally occupies the early space of acquaintances. I hadn’t realized the rarity of this until one of my roommates (from Boston) pointed out: “You ask the questions all of us are wondering but are too afraid to ask.”
I thought about that for a bit, then I thought back to one-to-one conversation training during LCM leader training a couple years ago. We learned there to take that extra step and ask the questions that might not be entirely comfortable. People are often very willing to descend past the surface level with you very quickly.
I no longer think of conversations in relation to this one-to-one training, but evidently it has become engrained in my manner of forming relationships. I have friendships here based in our ability to discuss our differing perspectives instead of acquaintances intent on skirting around them. I have learned about identities from Arab-Israelis, Jewish-Israelis, an American Messianic Jew, and a Guyanese whose family converted from Christianity to Judaism. And in the coming months I will continue to deepen these relationships and form new ones with the vast array of people this small country attracts and forms.
So this is my thank you to you, Kate, and to everyone involved in LCM for promoting such an open, curious, and respectful community that extends far beyond the University of Minnesota campus.