As the SSTS students from around the country gathered in the auditorium along with over 150 students from Colorado for the keynote presentation, Bob started by encouraging everyone in the audience to “Get uncomfortable” through a willingness to get outside of their comfort zone and get curious. “Staying in your intellectual comfort zone is dangerous” he said, when we can easily use the brain’s intellectual resources to focus on living the most comfortable life possible for ourselves. He invited students to “be skeptics like Socrates” and to always investigate the effectiveness of all the solutions being presented and to ask questions to engage your brain fully in forming new perspectives and getting in someone else’s shoes. He said research is showing people that live in a way that connects to a bigger world, embracing empathy and altruism, live longer lives.
The first student speaker, from a North Carolina, said of his service and home stay with SSTS, “As teenagers we are stereotyped as being in our own little bubble and that we don’t know or care what is happening in the world.” He went on to say how he gained new perspective from living with his host brother. “I was surprised that he didn’t want to live elsewhere like in the U.S. because of all the poverty and hardship in his country, but it really struck me that he told me he wanted to live in Cambodia because that is where he was most needed.”
Cambodia Trip participant 2014
Socheat from Cambodia explained how hard it is for her non-profit to get rural Cambodians to examine the overall impact of the logging industry that has become their way of life. CRDT, Cambodian Rural Development Team, works hardest to form the trusting relationships that support dialogue about these big picture solutions.