– Ella Fried
We woke up in the bustling city of Vegas, walked through the “adult arcade” one last time, and boarded the bus to leave (some more begrudgingly than others).
We stopped for lunch at our official Etgar restaurant, Chipotle (joke courtesy of Billy), among other options, then got back on the bus. When we saw the ocean approaching from the West, we knew that our bus driver Nikki had completed the incredible trek from East to West!
We then met with Patrick Jones, a former member of the Republican Party. Our conversation juxtaposed yesterday’s conversation with Niger Innis, as Jones does not support former President Trump, and our discussion was more free-flowing and discussion-based. We discussed the importance of power within a political party and our views on religion in politics, among other issues that separate traditional conservatism from Trump in Jones’ perspective.
When I considered Jones’ views in parallel with Innis’, I gained a broader view of the Republican Party by understanding their beliefs, even though I disagreed with many of them. These conversations give me hope for the country because if we are able to respectfully talk to people with whom we disagree, with the intention of understanding each other, I believe that we can make true progress.
For dinner, we explored Fairfax, LA, and The Grove Farner’s Market, then immersed ourselves in the earth-shattering art of slam poetry. The honesty with which the poets told their stories about topics ranging from abuse to love seemed to capture the essence of Etgar in my mind, as the whole room was connected through a historical form of honest storytelling.
From the first day, I felt that this was a supportive environment where I could communicate with vulnerability, learn continuously, and, as we say on Etgar, become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Our candid conversations about various topics throughout the trip have helped me fully embrace all of the complexities of life and of America, from the beauty of the Grand Canyon to the energy of Las Vegas. In short, these conversations, much like slam poetry, have made me feel whole.