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This past week, we had a short discussion with Paul Tiller, the Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs. He spoke of what drew him to DC from New York and stated “in New York, finance is in the air but here, politics in the air”. This comment struck me as I am finally starting to realize what a crucial role our physical location is having on my experience so far.

Before this summer, I struggled listening to the other side of politics. I thought my beliefs were more moral, more just, more humane. Being at a liberal institution like Duke made this really easy. But spending the summer in DC and listening to conservative peers and speakers share their ideas has made me more open and receptive. I decided to listen to other people’s views instead of immediately refuting them. Although I haven’t changed my stance on the majority of issues, I am able to see where other people are coming from, and how each person’s experiences mold their viewpoints.

I’ve heard people say they are able to separate the person from the politics. I’m not quite at that point yet and I am not sure I will ever be. I think that your political beliefs reflect your values a lot. But instead of drawing judgment on others, I have learned to take a step back and see why I think the things I do. I’ve realized that my perception of others says more about me than it ever will about them, and being open to other’s views is the best approach, especially to politics.

We are exactly halfway through with the program and I am amazed at what I have completed so far. I am making progress at work, something that I was extremely anxious about at the start of the program. I am trying new things and meeting new people and staying open. Open to different viewpoints and beliefs. Open to different ways of accomplishing progress. Open to different paths for my future. With just four weeks left, I am excited to see where my new sense of “openness” will lead me.