Tommy McDermott: Introduction

My name is Tommy McDermott, and I’m a soon to be senior English major with minors in communications and peace and conflict studies. I was the co-coordinator of the Elon Volunteers Student Global AIDS Awareness Campaign, participated in the Model U.N. International Crisis Conference at Elon, currently serve as a study abroad student ambassador, and am headed to South Africa next winter term as part of the service-based study abroad program.
I’m taking this course because I feel it is necessary to broaden one’s understanding of world affairs and other cultures if one hopes to have any chance of becoming a positive force of change in the world.
L.D. Russell, a phenomenal mentor, and my favorite professor so far at Elon, led my Global Experience class in a way that was engaging and fostered an atmosphere that was driven by discussion. We covered a wide array of topics, but perhaps my favorite was the issue of the United States’ growing complacency with war efforts, specifically the dual conflicts of Afghanistan and Iraq in the Middle East, and the potentially dangerous consequences that could arise from having such a disinterested and uneducated general public. We discussed at length that this is most likely a result of it being far easier to vilify an enemy, rather than attempt to understand the motivations of radical groups, the national interests of foreign countries, or the beliefs of different religions. It was also very interesting to observe the gradual shift in popular interest from foreign issues abroad, to eventually becoming more concerned about less important issues at home in the years since taking that course.
As one NBC news article put it, “Americans show more interest in the economy and taxes than the latest suicide bombings in a different, distant land. They’re more tuned in to the political ad war playing out on television than the deadly fight still raging against the Taliban. Earlier this month, protesters at the Iowa State Fair chanted ‘Stop the war!’ They were referring to one purportedly being waged against the middle class.” (NBC)
The challenging and thought provoking experience that I had in Professor Russell’s class, led me to enroll in a number of other courses that helped me to see the world through a different lens. I took sociology through film, which made me re-examine my own beliefs and values by showing me different people and cultures from around the world. My international relations course, as well as history after 1865, taught me about all of the past grievances and horrific tragedies that serve as motivation for bloodshed and distrust around the world even today, and this helped to open my eyes to the underlying issues in many conflicts around the world.

Sitting on a cliff near Tiger Leaping Gorge in China

Sitting on a cliff near Tiger Leaping Gorge in China

 

Works Cited: “No One Really Cares’: U.S. deaths in Afghanistan reach 2,000 in ‘forgotten’ war” NBC News. Aug. 22, 2012. June 1, 2013. http://worldnews.nbcnews.com

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