I’m an International Studies and Psych student. My time at SSU has consisted of pondering big questions about the problems in our world and discussing possible solutions to those problems. These discussions almost always come back to the need for connection: connection with God, with people, with the environment and with ourselves. I’ve learned to ask a lot of questions such as, “who’s at the table?” and “who isn’t at the table?” My studies have challenged me to try and see people and understand their experience by watching and listening to their stories.
In light of this foundational value, you can imagine my surprise that I have had the opposite reaction while traveling in Europe. I keep finding myself wanting to ignore all of the people here. We’ve been traveling through bustling cities, contemplating in packed museums and voyaging on overfilled transit. There are people, sounds and movement everywhere we’ve journeyed. I’ve encountered this disconcerting paradox of feeling as though individuals are getting in the way of my own experience on the one hand and wanting to hear about their experience on the other. This tension has felt uncomfortable. It has felt as though I must choose to focus on connecting either with myself or with others.
Yet, over the last week, I’ve come to recognize a new possibility! Our tour guide at Mauthausen Concentration Camp Memorial challenged us to consider what individuals can do with the power they hold. On this trip, I’m learning that with the power I hold comes the responsibility to recognize the need for balance. Not everything has to be thought of, felt or experienced in one moment. Furthermore, taking time for myself does not mean I don’t see someone else. I’m practicing different types of connection. I’m learning to hold experiences, to nurture them and to value them over time.