By Kelly McLoughlin, DCI Fellow
Davidson is a special place. As I finish my freshman year it has become apparent that there is not anywhere equivalent. And when people ask me what makes Davidson so special, my response always comes back to the people – sure Lake Norman is great, the curriculum is stellar, and campus itself looms with beauty – but it’s the people who make Davidson so special.
While in high school, my friend group danced around controversial issues, making blanket statements or preferring silence instead of exploring why and what we believed. Upon coming to Davidson, I assumed that things would be the same. I would be able to tell where people stood but conversations would not happen. It would be the same unspoken silence in high school. Except I was totally wrong – in the best way possible!
My friend group is diverse. We’ve all lived different life experiences, whether that be schooling, geography, racially and ethnically, or socio-economically. With this inherent diversity comes a diversity of opinions that was uncommon for me – especially uncommon when I learned that people wanted to talk about these views. Within my group of friends, we’ve discussed sexuality within the church, how to reform housing and combating homelessness within our individual communities, the legalization of marijuana, how climate change should be handled, and a plethora of other issues.
I think I have been able to participate and lead some of these conversations because of the skills that I learned from the DCI. The DCI has reinforced in me confidence to be able to communicate effectively and efficiently. Furthermore, and most beneficial to myself and my friend group, the ability to see past opinions and into the history and personal experience behind each political opinion. Through this ability, we have all been able to understand each other. Whether we disagree on the overall issue, the means of getting to an end goal, or some other facet of the discussion – we all know why we believe what we believe and can see and understand the humanity in each other.
I come from a town where everyone generally has the same opinion and can express it – or they keep it to themselves and never talk about it. Davidson and the skills the DCI have provided me – confidence in my abilities, methods for productive facilitation, and how to incorporate deliberative dispositions – have helped me to become more open-minded and in turn create a more open friend group; from there, I have been able to make stronger, more meaningful friendships by encouraging humanity, trust, and respect within my friends and within our political conversations and life.