Before posting our last (and fabulous) blog post from the trip, I just want to say that it has been a real delight to share all of these reflections from my terrific students with our blogging community. Looking forward already to the next trip in 2017!
Student James Bowers does a beautiful job here outlining how learning about international conflict may inspire us to deal with our own conflict in the U.S.
There is a conflict. And no one wants to talk about it. It makes many uncomfortable so much so that one can rationalize and force himself to believe that the conflict does not exist. America has a race conflict. It’s our conflict. I’ve come to terms that no matter how uncomfortable the race conversation looks, my life requires that I be a credible leader who engages in dialogue that puts racial tension into the forefront in efforts to bring about meaning solutions.
I have gained credibility by going to Israel and learning about the most important and infamous conflict throughout history, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our class was in Israel for less than a week. And during that week we had a number of lectures and experiences that educated us on the conflict. When we learned about the conflict and its main issues, we were quickly ready to seek solutions and offer reasonable ones of our own. It was fascinating to see that seeking a solution was our first knee-jerk reaction. Interestingly enough however, when it comes to our race conflict here in America, it would be a major accomplishment to even get 36 people to believe that a conflict even exists.
Experiencing Israel has educated me about a totally different race conflict than what I experience on a daily basis in America. Gaining such education has made me credible and assisted me in knowing how to hold diplomatic discussions and how to articulate solutions effectively. Granted, the consequences of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are currently at a different level than the racial conflict in America. However, our race conflict must be addressed with specific actions used to effectuate change. For example, black and white people must put themselves in a credible position to discuss the race conflict. No longer does it suffice to just talk about one’s own experiences in America; instead, black and white people must educate themselves on the issues they faced personally and also the issues that other racial groups are currently facing around the world.
Finally, it is said “To whom much is given, much is required.” I was the only black male who chose to experience Israel through the International Conflict Resolution Class at Marquette. By taking part in such an amazing experience, my life has changed. My life has changed because there is more that is now required of me. Now I am credible to speak diplomatically about our race conflict. Credibility coupled with my personal experiences gives me the opportunity to evaluate our race conflict and present meaningful solutions. Just as I was quick to provide solutions to the conflict of the Israeli’s I must train and educate myself to bring meaning solutions to our race conflict. This trip ignited a fire in me to stay encouraged and continue to educate myself on our race conflict in America and not just my experiences. I am glad I had a spring break that brought fun yet conviction.