The Value of Different Points of View
Angela Hayes | December 19, 2022
Responding To: Georgetown Students Share Thoughts on Student Dialogue Experience with Peking University
The Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues facilitated an open dialogue between students from Peking University (PKU) in China and Georgetown University in the United States. Particularly as an Australian international student at Georgetown, I found that partaking in the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues was an interesting way to delve into a diverse range of nuanced perspectives on a range of highly topical issues of global governance. These issues ranged from how to best address poverty, development, clean energy, and environmental issues – all highly pertinent questions for the two of the world’s most powerful economies.
For me, this was an incredibly enriching and eye-opening experience, as well as a unique opportunity to connect with people I never would have otherwise met. Students on both sides were willing to engage in an open and honest dialogue, facilitating a mutual exchange of ideas and opinions. Interestingly, whilst many of us participants had similarly focused on international affairs and politics in our university studies, each individual had different approaches to these disciplines and distinct areas of specialized knowledge. This variation allowed us to each contribute unique insights to the collective dialogue. For example, one of the participants from PKU was particularly knowledgeable about rural innovation, which completely broadened my horizons on week one’s topic of “The UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Challenge of Poverty Alleviation.” I was impressed by how each contribution was thorough, analytical, and often substantiated by examples from across the globe. The program itself was deliberately somewhat unstructured, with fairly general guiding questions and smaller groups, composed of three Georgetown students and three PKU students. This program design allowed our small groups to form a rapport fairly quickly, choose the direction of the discussions, and create a natural depth of conversation. In doing so, as we reconvened as a broader cohort, I was interested to observe how the groups took markedly different approaches to the guiding questions, based on our areas on interest.
Moreover, with a diversity of backgrounds and lived experience also came a diversity of perspectives amongst participants. Nonetheless, each and every student remained respectful of differences in how we answered the guiding questions throughout the program. When differences in opinion did arise, Georgetown and PKU students alike were inquisitive and aimed to understand one another, rather than simply trying to justify their own beliefs. Whilst the groups did not always reach consensus, our discussions were grounded by a mutual aim to appreciate one another’s viewpoints. This enabled us to engage in a productive and informed discussion, giving rise to authentic understanding between students across nations, all of whom share a common interest in addressing international politics and intercultural dialogue.
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