One Small Step at Arizona State University
In order to further its mission of promoting civil discourse and preparing students, the school invited One Small Step to Arizona State University at the beginning of the fall 2019 semester. The project, put together by national nonprofit StoryCorps, provided ASU students the opportunity to have a civil discussion with other students with different political views in an effort to break down the barriers created by politics. By providing a platform for civil discourse, students get a chance to have challenging, yet meaningful conversations with their peers -- something they will have to do frequently when they enter their careers and civic life.
One Small Step has given over 450,000 people the opportunity to record interviews about their lives and have them preserved in the Library of Congress. Focused on personal stories, the conversations listed below shine a light on finding common ground amidst political opposition.
Listed below are the individual conversations. For an overview of the initiative, watch this YouTube video.
"You are the only person that I have met that is from China."
Hannah Rose and Yitong Liu, an international student from China, discuss their experience at Arizona State University and thoughts on the future. When Hannah admits that Yitong is the first person she has met from China, she is very curious about Yitong's experience moving to another country alone, making friends and the most important aspect of her university life.
"No two Democrats think the same, no two Republicans think the same."
Justin Heywood, a political science major at Arizona State University, speaks with his One Small Step partner, Lucas Selby, an English major, about their personal political leanings and how their conservative upbringings led them to different political ideologies. They chat about political messaging, living in a "post-fact society" and the political discourse that we face today.
"We all create our own little worlds."
Celesté and her One Small Step conversation partner, Benjamin, shared factors that have shaped their political views, which were very similar. They discovered they were both raised in religious homes, took the same Arizona State University course on existentialism and find themselves in between the two political parties.
"College is a great time to figure out who you are and where you are going in life."
- Jaxon Wasburn
About the One Small Step Initiative
For the last 15 years, StoryCorps has perfected a method to help people feel more connected and for reminding us of the inherent worth of every person and every personal story. Using their tools and questions, they bring people together to have otherwise impossible conversations, giving them license to talk about things they otherwise might not discuss.
Now, StoryCorps is doing something a little different. They are asking people with different political views to record a StoryCorps interview with each other to break down boundaries and remember our shared humanity. These conversations serve to remind us that we have more in common than divides us and that it is essential to a functioning democracy to treat those with whom we disagree with decency and respect.
By facilitating and recording conversations that allow people who disagree to listen to each other with respect, One Small Step is seeking to counteract intensifying political divides.
The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership is a One Small Step partner. If you or someone you know want to have a One Small Step conversation, please email us.