This is a picture of me that was taken when I took a trip to Kuwait City, Kuwait with my mom in July 2014. My mom has been a flight attendant for 35 years, and of these 35, she chose to spend 7 traveling to Kuwait because she loves it and it's people. Despite the media, the stereotypes, the ongoing war, the incidents that have happened within our country, and despite 9/11-- which impacted her, her coworkers and the nature of her job immensely, she took a chance. She took a chance at loving and appreciating a culture and a people she'd been told to fear. And she took a chance at giving me the same opportunity.
I am not perfect, and I am made up of many experiences and people and interactions and feelings, but I believe that this experience is among one of the most impactful in my life, as it has made me want to be a more accepting, more patient, and more loving person. And when I am not accepting, patient and loving, it's made me want to challenge myself. It's made me want to learn and to listen. So even though I am not perfectly unbiased or perfectly unafraid, it's made me want to doubt fear and try to understand. Because that is all I can do.
I don't think we are born with the ability to understand and empathize with those who are different than us; I believe this is something that is learned.
And sometimes the only way you learn is by taking a chance.