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December 19, 2022

Responding To: Georgetown Students Share Thoughts on Student Dialogue Experience with Peking University

The Value of Different Points of View

Angela Hayes

I have been taking Mandarin since high school, and a big part of how we practice the language is by describing the difference between American and Chinese culture, history, politics, food, and endless other subjects. Although discussing differences is important to understanding cultural contexts of different countries, it does not provide an opportunity to consider the many ways that we are similar or can come to agreements about things.

Going into the U.S.-China Student-to-Student Dialogues, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was excited to go beyond the expectations of disagreement sown into how classes of all disciplines discuss Chinese and American international relations. I was doubtful that intense bouts of disagreement would arise—those open to dialogue are most often those that are also open to hearing points of view different from one’s own—and I was most interested in seeing how we, the students from Georgetown University, and the students from Peking University were similar in how we confronted the massive issues in our world.

Something that was apparent to me throughout the three sessions of dialogue was how valuable having different points of view and more people engaged in conversation was for coming to a more holistic understanding and more conducive discussion about the topic at hand. My first discussion group only had four people able to participate, my second session had five, and finally during the last session, all six members were able to participate and create a complete group. It was the discussion in the third and final dialogue that was most interesting to be a part of because of how many people’s different experiences informed the information they had to offer to the topics we were discussing and how they framed the issues of global development. That is what makes these dialogues so valuable, not just because they allow for transnational discussion, but because it is a meeting of people with different expertise and personal experiences that can speak to these issues.

Faced with heavy questions such as, “How can the United States and China support the goal of poverty alleviation worldwide?,” there were often times when we were left pensive in our groups, working through the intensity of the issue at hand. It became clear, then, that we each shared the desire for cohesion across nations towards creating a more liveable world for everyone. Although at times in discussion it seemed as though this end was far out of reach, the people present at the discussions made me more hopeful for a future that promotes this cohesion and an overall more open interchange of ideas and solutions.

Angela Hayes (SFS'24) is studying in Georgetown's School of Foreign Service majoring in regional and comparative studies, concentrating in Latin America and Asia, and minoring in Chinese and Korean.

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