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Everyone in this program has become all too familiar with the term “Let’s unpack that”. Professor Williams has instilled a new perspective in all of us to not just throw out assertions but to think about where they are coming from and better understand how this reflects how we think, thus ‘unpacking it’. At first this seemed silly. Do we really need to think that throughly about what we say and think?

This program has taught me that yes, we absolutely do. This especially stuck out to me last week when we watched Beasts of the Southern Wild. This movie was extremely difficult for most of us to process, nonetheless contribute to a discussion about immediately after. It covered a huge array of difficult topics like poverty, climate change, and racial inequity. Everyone came to the discussion with different upbringings and prior experiences which can cause a lot of disagreement. Our group often gets stuck untangling other people’s thoughts to understand where they are coming from. But, working through these difficult moments is helping us all grow.

I have always had difficulty asking hard questions. When someone says something that bothers me, I tend to say the usual “Let’s agree to disagree”. This program has made me realize that pushing away potentially enlightening discussions is not always the best route. There is a lot to be learned from other people and how they process situations differently than I do.

Learning how to unpack statements has helped me find my voice in tough conversations. I don’t think it will ever be comfortable to confront someone about your differences but I am learning how to do so empathetically. With only a week and a half left of the program, I hope to continue moving through hard conversations, feeling okay with butting heads from time to time, and learning from my peers and what their experiences have taught them.