Coming to class after the Election was very difficult. I briefly considered cancelling class as I personally was not sure if I could come in to teach. It had been a very painful night and the thought of holding class, as if nothing had happened, seemed dishonest at best.
However, I also knew that it was precisely these moments when I *had* to teach. By not teaching, I was staying silent, and that option seemed like the worse of all. Of all the classes that I teach, Cross Cultural Psychology, is by far the most meaningful and, by extension, also the most difficult to teach.
Indeed, as I often tell my class, It is only when things get hard and uncomfortable that I know I must be doing my job right.
Why? Because learning about others and accepting others where they are is unbelievably difficult. As I stressed to my class, good people can, and do, disagree. And yet, while this is true, it is also important that we do not impose the burden of tolerance solely on those who have historically carried the heavier load.
So what did I do? I held class - and it was difficult - but I hope good. Students talked if they wanted to or sat in silence. And then I gave them the option - to write to our sister school, Effat University, in Saudi Arabia, so that they may explain their feelings at this point
This assignment was completely voluntary and ungraded. Students could write a direct letter to their assigned partner or just write a more general letter. Students could sign their letters or not. Many of the students did take me up on the offer and I wrote as well.
The photo above is my letter to my friend and colleague, Prof. Wedjan Felmban. I value our intercultural and interfaith friendship and my experience in connecting this class just reaffirms my faith in the power of teaching Cross Cultural Psychology.