Bridge the Divide: Promoting Change in a Polarized Society

group project

In today’s society, the polarization of American politics has become more of a problem than ever before. The day after the 2016 presidential election results came out, I remember thinking about how divided we are. Not just on my college campus, but in my community as well. I became frustrated with how we could not understand each other. As a Liberal Democrat, I was not pleased with the results, and was pretty upset with the people who voted for Donald Trump. I just couldn’t understand their reasons. That’s where Bridge the Divide came in.

I wanted to understand each person’s political views and the reasons behind why they think a certain way or voted for someone else.

We had conversations on my college campus to discuss how we felt about the election results and the future of America. I wanted to understand each person’s political views and the reasons behind why they think a certain way or voted for someone else.

Flash forward to summer 2017, several months after Trump took on the role as president of the United States of America. I was on Her Campus and discovered an organization called Bridge the Divide. After reading an article about Bridge the Divide, written by their Director of Communications, Rachna Shah, I decided to look up the organization’s website.

So, what is “Bridge the Divide”, you ask? It is an international political initiative that promotes and simulates political conversations during times of divisiveness. This organization unites politically active students and enables them to change the world one conversation at a time. Run by young people for young people.

After several minutes of debate, they decided to turn their debate on its head and actually listen to each other without bringing their political views into it.

The story of Bridge of Divide started over a year ago when two of its founders, Joseph Touma, a West Virginia Republican, and Clara Nevins, a California Democrat, got into a political debate while attending a summer program–both frustrated with how divided politics are in today’s society.

After several minutes of debate, they decided to turn their debate on its head and actually listen to each other without bringing their political views into it. That is when they really started to understand each other. During that summer program they connected with other students who were also frustrated with the political tension. Together as a team, they created Bridge the Divide.

You might ask, “How we are going to Bridge the Divide?” Well, Bridge the Divide‘s website is a platform where high school and college students from around the world can contribute and have their voices heard in political conversations with other peers.

They can do this by participating in online discussions on a wide range of topics from climate change to human rights. They can write opinion editorials, host round table discussions, subscribe to the organization’s newsletter, Pulse, and share Bridge the Divide’s message on social media and through word of mouth, and even become a global ambassador.

Bridge the Divide has allowed me to understand issues better and learn why others might think a certain way or disagree on controversial topics.

I’ve been a global ambassador with Bridge the Divide since August 2017–there are over 100 of us from 22 countries. The reason I became a global ambassador was to better understand a wide range of views and learn more about political topics like immigration and feminism. I regularly participate in their discussions and read what other peers have to say. I even wrote an op-ed on on immigration.

Bridge the Divide has allowed me to understand issues better and learn why others might think a certain way or disagree on controversial topics. I want to change the world for the better. As a global ambassador for Bridge the Divide, I work to promote their message in my community in the hopes that we will become less divided and learn to understand each other better. The Bridge the Divide community hopes to spread their message not just to young people, but to global leaders and politicians.

The organization has grown so much in such a short amount of time. Recently, Bridge the Divide had their first inaugural Converge conference on October 28, 2017 at Marlborough School in Los Angeles, California. There were over 60 people at the event including Emmy Rossum, women’s rights and equal pay advocate, and star of the show Shameless, and Mark McKinnon, bipartisanship and civility advocate, and the co-founder of No Labels, serving as keynote speakers of the conference. The attendees participated in entrepreneurship workshops and engaged in political activism in order to have a better, broader understanding of their political views.

The ideals Bridge the Divide upholds are political diversity, political tolerance, and commitment to a collective future for every nation. No matter what your political views are, we want to ensure our message gets across around the world. For more information about Bridge the Divide and how to get involved, visit Bridge the Divide and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.