It seems Americans have never disagreed with each other on more things than they do right now, and one program is trying to find a way out, starting with teenagers.
Naomi Gould, 17, is a junior at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland. She took part in the Junior State of America Political Penpals program.
“I would say that it changed me,” Gould said.
Gould, who describes herself as a Democrat was paired with a high school student in Portland Oregon, who is a Libertarian. They sent emails back and forth on issues, such as Black Lives Matter, gun control, taxation and climate change. Throughout the whole correspondence, Gould said they didn’t always agree, but the conversation remained respectful.
Gould said the experience helped her understand another point of view. “It opens your mind in such a way, forces you to think about things in other ways.”
And during the process, she paid more attention to the news, which helped her to be more engaged in what was happening in the world.
“It’s really easy to, if you live in an area where other people hold very similar beliefs, to just consider that your whole world,” Gould said.
Junior State of America said that in just five months, some 400 students across the U.S. became “Political Penpals” in spring 2020.