September 22nd. Sunday. The final day of the conference. I’m holding hands of the people standing next to me. We were told to close our eyes to feel each other's energy. At some point, life around me stopped, and I began to recall everything that had happened to me during those three busy days.
Thursday evening. I'm in high spirits running to the conference’s opening ceremony. I’m excited and expecting something new and unforgettable.
I’ve entered the room full of strangers and stood behind to listen to the opening speeches. With every word I’m starting to feel more and more excited. “You are the future,” they say. This makes us responsible for the world we live in. It is in our hands to change it, to make it a little better.
For a very long time I have had the desire to make people understand that wars and enmity cannot lead to anything good. I observe how one can blindly believe in news and propaganda, without bothering to understand the subject of things. Can believe and start hating other peoples and countries, without realizing that people are not the ones to blame. After all, a person is not inherently worse because he has a different skin color, language or nationality. Obviously, there are bad people in every state but whether you are bad or good does not depend on where you were born.
During the three days of the conference I’ve watched Russian and American students communicating with each other with pleasure. I saw trust in their eyes. I saw the genuine interest of the Americans in our country. And I did not see a single drop of hostility.
Within the conference we examined four very important problems, for all of mankind, and offered our proposals for resolving them. It was Russian and American students teamwork that caused success. Each project involves future interaction of the two countries and this is exactly what our world does need. Interaction – not division, friendship – not hostility.
Joe told us to look into each other's eyes. Look without letting your partner out of sight, to feel the connection, to begin to trust. And it worked. I was looking into the chocolate eyes of my partner, and seeing his soul, seeing his trust and kindness. We were holding each other’s hands and this made me feel warm inside.
A touch, a glance – it is truly important. In today's world, where technologies have taken possession of our lives and hearts, we have ceased to trust our feelings and emotions, we have stopped listening and seeing others. Modern society does not know how to build a dialogue and communication between people, because they are used to texting and communicating solely through their smartphones. If a problem arises, we no longer talk to each other, we simply block the person, add him/her to the blacklist without clarifying the causes of the conflict. What if such a society is at the head of the government? Will countries be on each other's blacklists then? After all, this is already happening. Are sanctions not the equivalent to a blacklist in your phone?
“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough”. President Franklin Roosevelt said these words on the radio on October 13, 1940. Eighty years have passed since that moment, and it’s hard to understand why do not we remember his wisdom and continue to incite hatred? Every action brings reaction. And, if we want to have friends, at first we must become friends ourselves. This is exactly what we’ve achieved at the conference. We’ve become friends, we’ve begun to trust each other, and we’ve understood that relations between Russia and America have a chance.
Remember how easy it was to make friends with someone on the playground when we were kids. All that was needed was to come up to a boy or a girl you liked and say “hello”. It was so natural to play with, to trust people we didn’t know. At the conference, I felt like I was a kid on the playground again.
One evening after a boat trip, our large and friendly international company went to a bar to continue talking and having a good time. We were sitting all together, telling jokes, laughing and feeling happiness. It was a very warm evening. When the time was approaching midnight, some of us started to leave because we had to wake up early on the next day. Some of us went together to the subway. My new American friend had to leave the subway car earlier than me, so we said goodbye to each other, and he went out. When I got home, I saw a message from him on my phone “make it back okay?” After reading this, I felt so happy and warm inside. We knew each other only for a couple of hours, but he already cared about me. And it is precisely such little things that make me look positively into the future.
I believe that our generation will be able to redirect hostility into friendship. After all, if we, 20-year-old adolescents, are able to trust each other, then why cannot smart adults do he same?
SEPTEMBER 22nd. SUNDAY. THE FINAL DAY OF THE CONFERENCE. I'M HOLDING HANDS OF THE PEOPLE STANDING NEXT TO ME AND LOOKING AT THE WORLD THROUGH DIFFERENT EYES AND I DO TRUST IT.
Alisa Topchiy is a student at St. Petersburg State University and a participant in Whom Do We Trust 2019. Our gratitude to Alisa for sharing her experience with our readers.