Yue Sasaki ’26, a computer science and educational studies major at Hiram College, attended a Braver Angels conference in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to gain a better understanding of American politics. Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Sasaki is an international student that chose Hiram as her “second home” to obtain her undergraduate degree. She was encouraged to attend the conference by James Thompson, Ph.D., director of the Garfield Center for Public Leadership (GCPL) as a way to help her gain a better understanding of politics and feel more confident in taking political science courses.

“I would like to have more ideas about American politics,” said Sasaki. “I thought the Braver Angeles would be a great community to get involved in. The conference would allow me to listen to other political opinions outside of my own. Now, I feel more comfortable discussing and sharing my opinion in my upcoming course.”

Braver Angels is an organization that focuses on addressing the challenges Americans face on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Over 700 people attended the conference, and Sasaki commented that all attendees were visually divided by colored neck straps depicting their political stance. “As an international student who has been in the States for only nine months, it was meaningful to be able to see so many different people from different states. The experience reminded me that I cannot summarize the entirety of the United States of America within one state whenever I describe my life in the States to my friends and family back in Japan,” said Sasaki.

Sasaki found it challenging at first to join conversations at the various networking events during the conference, yet she remained willing to listen and understand. However, Sasaki felt the experience was significant and looks to continue broadening her perspective and understanding of politics. “I am going to Ireland as a member of GCPL next spring. Whenever I try to understand a new country, I find there are so many things connected to politics in everyday life,” she said.

To learn more about the Garfield Center for Public Leadership, click here.

By Elyse Pitkin

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