Tolerance is a word that first entered my vocabulary in the seventh grade, but I had no personal definition until my 2009 summer visit to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This trip incorporated a mass of events. Some of the highlights included our participating in a day of racial reconciliation, partaking in a “poverty simulation”, and a few cases of H1N1. All of these features of my trip contributed to my redefining of tolerance.
After arriving at City on a Hill, the organization that planned our trip, we were given a tour of Milwaukee. We visited a renovated downtown shopping center and toured an affluent neighborhood near Lake Michigan. These neighborhoods of Milwaukee were polarized upon our crossing an overpass. After passing the bridge a contrasting city was illustrated. Unlike the developed regions of the city the Eastern area was saturated with Hispanic influences and poverty. City on a Hill’s tour exemplified the separation of cultures found both in Milwaukee and in the United States. This tour exposed the societal need of understanding dissimilar racial backgrounds in order to surmount these cultural barriers.
A few days into our trip we entered a “poverty simulation”. This imitation was essentially a two day period in which we would have none of our personal items, would be provided with a scarce amount of fake money for meals, and would sleep and spend the majority of our time in a large storage room. Those two days were abundant with hunger, sore feet, swine flu, and a need for a tooth brush; these experiences were definitely the most influential. This time allowed me to imitate the experience of being homeless and poor and have a sample of the misfortune that many people encounter. Experiencing a tinge of that pain enabled me to empathize with an entirely different realm of life. I believe the ignorance that I had and that many have to others’ distress is why the severance between classes is so grand.
My revolutionized definition of tolerance was a byproduct of vaguely experiencing a blatantly divided city. Prior to this trip I referenced tolerance as simply enduring others’ cultural and economic distinctions. By the denouement of my trip, my denotation of acceptance had transfigured from simply enduring an individual’s variances to viewing people as people and embracing incongruities of race, creed, gender, economic status, sexuality, and age. My summer visit to Milwaukee fostered my redefining of tolerance and developed my value of human life.
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