by Rachel Hummel ’18
East Meets West placed me on a timeline. Through an overview study of literature, history, religion and political science, I began to see my story—a distinctly 21st-century, Christian, Western story—in the context of centuries of predecessors, civilizational fault lines, and cultural clashes. East Meets West allows students such as myself to evaluate and reshape worldviews that are so often isolated and one-dimensional. As a wise man once said, truth is a sphere; its entirety cannot be grasped all at once. I came to college believing that I saw things clearly. Now, I know that I do not. The clear has become complex—but the complex has become good.
East Meets West placed me on a map. Through travel to the Balkans, an archetype of civilizational interaction, things we had studied and read in the classroom came to life. The tangible change from Croatia of the West to Bosnia of the East accentuated the learned necessity of interpreting not only world events but also daily, individual interactions through more than my over-used Western lenses. I have begun to recognize that I will never know stories in their completeness but that it is the attempt to do so that will build bridges across segregating divisions.
As I pick strawberries alongside Ukrainian foreign workers this summer, ably discussing their civil war and chuckling over quirky cultural differences, I am appreciative of the renewed sense of curiosity and wherewithal that has been instilled in me because of my East Meets West experience. So I am grateful for the ways in which the East Meets West program has shaped me—ways that go beyond the classroom and which will continue to reveal themselves for a lifetime.