MINT: What have you learned from having two roommates with very different international experiences?
Jack Weller: In some ways, I've learned more about my identity as an American. Things like my perspective on the election became less parochial and more focused on international issues as a result of having roommates from different continents and cultural backgrounds.
Eric Ballouz: It's been interesting to see how each of us reacted to and interacted with the Stanford community. I think a lot about assimilation and integration, and the ways a white Californian, a German-Guatemalan person, and I could fit into Stanford (and on a smaller scale our row house community) illustrated to me the flexibility of cultural identity. Also, I think Richard and I were both very curious to learn more about the mechanics of U.S. politics, and to that end, we're very lucky to have had Jack (our in-haus political genius) as a roommate, especially during the election.
M: What specific foreign affairs or issues are you interested in?
JW: I am growing increasingly interested in the ways in which democracies can reflect and refract the will of the people. Germany, Lebanon, and the United States are all countries with histories of ethnic or sectarian divides built into the structure of their governing systems, and it has been fascinating to think about how history shapes institutions of power.
EB: Since coming to Stanford, I found it valuable to learn about how Stanford students from the US and Europe see the peoples of the Middle East. Moreover, talking to others about the struggles of the oppressed in the U.S. and other countries led me to think more deeply about the injustices of the society I grew up in. The U.S. has developed a rich terminology to describe the struggles of minority groups. I hope that learning to define some of the struggles of people of color, women, and queer people will help me be a more critical and active member of the society(/ies) I am a part of.