From the familiar roads and mountains of East Tennessee to halfway across the world in the Middle East, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero is focused on how she can help bring people of all different types together.
"Palestinians, Arabs and Jews, Muslims - we met with a lot of people there," Rogero said of her week-long trip to Israel with a group of seven other mayors. "We were in the Holy Land, so we went to all the sacred sites."
She said she has mixed emotions about the trip.
"It was exciting to be there, but it's also sad that there seems to continue to be conflict," said Rogero.
She used her experience to speak at UT's Inclusion and Diversity Week event about finding common ground with others.
"It's really great for us to invest in our students and prepare them for the global workplace," said the event's chair, Alice Wirth. "It gives the students an opportunity to listen to experts from the college, university, people from the community."
People like Rogero, who can give students perspective on different places around the world.
"When you think about both the Palestinian and Israeli kids, they're growing up in an entirely different world than our children do," said Rogero.
She said that world includes more violence than most people are used to.
"A young kid who knows they can't go beyond a certain checkpoint, or a kid who sees bombs, or you know, violence," said Rogero.
She hopes her trip will add to her understanding of culture, and help her be a better leader.
"When I was there, I kept thinking of my Jewish friends back here whose families for generations faced persecution," said Rogero. "I also thought of my Palestinian friends here ... both Christian and Muslim, who are here in our community."
Making Knoxville better, using diverse knowledge from halfway around the world.
The ethnic advocacy group American Jewish Committee paid for Rogero's trip, meaning there was no cost to taxpayers.