I have been too quiet at times. I have actively chosen to be a passive member of the communities and organizations I am part of. There have been moments when I have held my tongue and kept myself from contributing to the conversation. I am not proud of that.

I have also said too much. I have walked into encounters with only one direction in mind. I have not always been so empathetic to the opinions of others. I am certainly not proud of that either.

We tend to listen with our opinions, to experience with our sensibilities rather than our senses. We dilute our dialogue with distance from the opposition, forgetting to consider a day in the life of those whose ideals differ from our own. There’s really no sense in seeing this way.

How else would one refine their conviction, if they never questioned it? Doubt seeps into the dry soil of any long-standing notion, shakes it up and, in doing so, makes it more viable for thicker roots to take hold — old or new. In enacting conversational voluntourism to benefit the collective, we may explore our own mindset by delving into others’ through healthy discussion rather than throwaway interaction.

Consider this magazine. Reporter strives to represent the student voice at RIT, indifferent to difference. If even one of us feels uncomfortable speaking up, the collective misses out. Voice, elevated by volume and volition, will garner all participating opinions equal bearing. So we must leave ourselves open to this discourse, to provide a space where new ideas are welcome and the acoustics are just right for them to be heard.

An institution’s strongest, most enriching quality is diversity in the schools of thought that comprise it. With each generation, new ideas take, challenging or evolving old ones. From seedling to sapling and on, gracious gardens move in and eventually grow out.