This past Saturday, my friend and I took a bike ride out onto the National Mall in D.C. It was one sunny and crisp morning with a slight breeze and perfect blue skies.
As we rode along the streets of our nation’s capital, we reminisced on the day 9 years ago, September 11, 2001.
I remember how I sat in a small cafeteria of my elementary school in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, innocently and ignorantly watching the horrid images of the two towers falling. I recall my principal trying to relay how serious the situation was to the naïve audience before her. Back then, I didn’t and couldn’t understand what was being said to me and why my friends were excused for the day following the gathering in our cafeteria.
After 9 years, I am now a college student. I have spent many hours in lecture halls listening to professional scholars analyzing why and how such an attack happened to our nation. While the power of knowledge gained in the confines of the lecture halls was great, what I find more and more is that sharing stories has the power to build bridges and correct misunderstandings. Communicating and being real and honest has helped me understand 9/11 and all the different experiences of people in a whole new way. What is more, I get to share, listen and have the other person put themselves in my shoes while I also put myself in the shoes of others.
During my conversation with my friend last Saturday, we opened up and talked about 9/11. We were surprised to find out how many of our close family, friends and community members were impacted by the events. And, I noticed how much these stories shared similar threads of experiences. Maybe because they all had similar experiences, they had the same way of pulling through the tough times; through community service, prayer, vigils, compassion and understanding.
I believe that communication is a meaningful way to open up positive dialogue among people. It helps us become more aware and look at an issue with different lenses. Channeling this and sharing your own personal experiences helps in getting insight and challenges you may not have been aware of.
And don’t just stop at sharing and learning. Go even further by challenging yourself to do something. Ask yourself how you can help to restore and rejuvenate our society. Find out what you’re passionate about, research and educate yourself. There are many ways and opportunities you can get involved and your community needs you. Then, please share with others and us on your findings and experiences and how we can learn and get involved, too!
Keep an open mind. Get involved. Make a difference.