Oh, The People We Meet…

Ian Zimmermann


July 29, 2009

I think I’m probably not the only one who meets a new group of people and tries to create associations between individuals in this new group and people who I’m already familiar with. For example, I walk into a room where I don’t know anyone and – oh – I haven’t even learned this kid’s name but he really reminds me of my friend Jack. Doing this is convenient because it lets us feel like we already have a certain connection to people we haven’t actually spent time with.

I make these kinds of comparisons instinctively, but the other day I started contemplating the actual factors going into these “associations.” I figure that the most important dynamics are looks, personality, and background. Looks are the easiest to compare because, well, we can see them. Personality is a little more difficult because we have to take some time to talk to the person we’ve just met and understand their ways of speaking, attitudes, and prejudices. Background, the final factor in comparing people is also the most difficult. It involves working hard to understand someone’s personal history; understanding what makes them tick and what experiences have made them have those feelings.

I’m beyond excited to see how my time in Global Citizen Year will allow me to make associations between people of a very different culture and those who I’m familiar with. Will I find connections easy to come by? For example, will I see someone with specifically unique dress and immediately see an association with my friend Jake? Or will I have to look past looks to see the experiences that have shaped these people to find some association with a friend? Or – perhaps the most exciting prospect – will I meet people with such radically different backgrounds that I’m unable to associate them with anyone I’ve ever met? I’ll find out in a couple months.

Ian Zimmermann