The Trek Episode 24 on Hospitality: Civics Unplugged defines hospitality on a micro and Marco level – in collaboration with Humanity 2.0

Contributed by: Show Editorial Team

Gary Sheng, Madison Adams, Angel Nwadibia, Rose Clubock, Julia Terpak, Brendan Carroll, and Ashley Lin discuss hospitality on this week’s episode of The Trek


  • Civics Unplugged hosts Trek Session with Gen Z community on hospitality and how it’s viewed on a micro and macro level
  • Prominent Gen Z figures discuss how hospitality is viewed and if it is more negative or positive
  • Future leaders of America discuss the cultural ties within hospitality and how it can be viewed in different parts of the world 



Brought to you by: Humanity 2.0 – a Non-Profit (Non-Government Organization) focused on identifying and removing the most significant impediments to human flourishing through technology and thought-leadership in collaboration with the Holy See (Vatican).

Special consideration; to CommPro Worldwide for their PR and media support

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Gary Sheng, Co-Founder/COO at Civics Unplugged, Madison Adams, Director of Dialogue at Civics Unplugged, Angel Nwadibia, Co-executive Director at Planet Justice, Rose Clubock, 2021 Fellow at Civics Unplugged, Brendan Carroll, 2021 Fellow at Civics Unplugged, Julia Terpak, Founder of Gen Z Connect and Ashley Lin, Founder/CEO of Project Exchange

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:00:10

Hello everyone and welcome to the Trek. The Trek is a Civics Unplugged series where community members participate in meaningful discussions on topics that are too often neglected when thinking about building the future. Through prompting questions and provocations, we’ve entered together into complex, but important conversations relating to building the future and democracy. We understand that this work requires ongoing dialogue, but it’s a journey worth trekking through. My name is Madison and I’m a high school senior from Verdigris, Oklahoma. I’m joined by some of our community members. And today we are talking about hospitality. And so we’re going to start off with the word association where everyone will introduce themselves, say one to three words, they associate with hospitality and explain why. 

Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 00:01:00

All right, I’m Julia, I’m 23 years old. I’m from Pennsylvania. I would say I have two words that I think of when I think hospitality, I think friendly and guests, because usually hospitality goes with people that you’re just meeting and obviously friendly. You would hope that they’re friendly.

Angel Nwadibia – Co-executive Director, Planet Justice: 00:01:25

Hi, my name’s Angel I’m currently based in Maryland and I’m a first year at Yale. And when I think of the word hospitality, I think of the good Samaritan for people who don’t know the good Samaritan is this parable from the Bible that centers, hospitality and generosity towards strangers and the quote unquote, least of these. So yeah, I think of the good Samaritan.

Rose Clubock – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:02:11

Hi, I’m Rose, I’m a junior in high school and I’m in Columbus, Ohio right now. And for me I think of welcoming. 

Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:02:29

Cool. I think the touch just because I feel in DECA, there’s a competitive event called hospitality and tourism, so that’s the word automatically comes up. And then I guess I think about like, I think about saving face is a con concept in Taiwan, Asian culture, Chinese culture, where you’re essentially, like so much of it is signaling, so much of hospitality is signaling, what you have and what you can offer and how you treat other people is a reflection of who you are. 

Brendan Carroll – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:03:31

Hi, I’m Brendan. I’m also a high school junior. I’m 16. And I currently live in New York my three words, which I went back and forth a lot, so they could be interchanged for certain. I’d probably say benevolence, hope, and community. I would say hope more or less is helping one another. You kind of have to be doing so for some purpose for the future. So you’re hoping that some form of hospitality will be returned to others in the future or that there’s some greater goal you’re working towards. Community, because I feel like it fosters a sense of unity between multiple people, regardless of where you live or where your background is, or, what your background is sourced in, I guess. It’s more or less based on who’s willing to help and how grateful the people that are being helped are. There’s a sense of genuine connection it seems at least from what I’ve experienced. And then benevolence to branch off of that is because regardless of especially in the modern college application culture and stuff people are offering hospitality or service oftentimes just to get community hours or to get something on their resume. But I think that true forms of hospitality require a sense of giving and genuine passion for it. So there’s an explanation, sorry. That was kind of long-winded.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:05:30

I’m going to put Chick-fil-A. Put maybe Asian parents, I’m sure this is other parents as well, but they really trying to one-up each other and how hospitable they can be the guests.

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:06:05

Yeah. So I’m going to second Gary on that one. Chick-Fil-A. I work at Chick-fil-A. I guess I still technically do. I’m still employed. I just don’t take shifts. And obviously I’m sure most people will know that something that they really stress. And then I would say smile, because I think that when you smile, your being hospitable and something that Max recommended, he said one time once you smile, you’ve shown someone your humanity. That’s just something that I really resonate with. And then also I put warmth because when you kind of radiate warmth, whatever that means you make people feel really welcome and wanted. So now we can go into the conversation. So if anyone has a question or provocation, they want to pose, go ahead. Actually I think I have one this is a brain drop that Gary worked on a couple of weeks ago. And the question was can you scale hospitality? If so, how?

Brendan Carroll – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:07:38

Would that be in reference to if one form of hospitality would be kind of worth more than another form?

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:07:50

I think more getting at, can you so for like CU as an organization, obviously an individual can be hospitable, but can you make that applicable on a larger scale for everyone?

Angel Nwadibia – Co-executive Director, Planet Justice: 00:08:15

Wait, so are you asking if institutions are hospitable? Yes and no. I think that at a certain point, I think it’s a very fine line. At least I’ll use the example of countries. I think it’s a fine line because at what point does hospitality turn into virtue signaling? And I say this specifically, because for instance, the United States foreign aid program specifically, as it pertains to African nations on the outside seems very generous and quote unquote hospitable. But when you really dig deep into the effects or even the application of America’s foreign aid programs and not only America, but just the West in general it’s very much geared towards the creation of, can I say this word, charity poverty porn? I don’t know if I can say that. And the way aid this quote unquote hospitable aid is designed are not actually designed with the intent of fixing the actual problems that occur in these nations and are rather seen as a way of the United States going or the West in general going, Oh yeah, we kind of messed up your countries in the 20th century, the 19th century, but now we’re throwing money at you. So be grateful. We’re charitable. But yeah, I think it’s a very fine line and it very much depends on the intention of the larger entity that is being hospitable.

Rose Clubock – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:10:27

I feel like that’s the place where it’s an issue with bigger organizations, because for countries or even just businesses, the point often in our society, they are doing something like a good act, like being hospitable for their own gain. And I think that’s where a lot of the issue with foreign aid comes in, which it really isn’t necessarily to benefit the other countries it’s to benefit America. So, I think that also happens at a smaller scale at businesses or corporations that maybe give money to charity. It’s the same thing. They’re trying to get something out of it. So is it really hospitable? And I think that’s the part of it is it comes off as them seeming like they want to get something out of it, but also that hospitality is kind of personal. And you feel personally welcomed when someone is hospitable towards you. So I feel like an organization could be hospitable, but that would take a lot of individual people being hospitable to make up the organization and also them not trying to get something out of it or appear that they’re getting something out of it.

Brendan Carroll – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:11:41

I was just about to say something very similar. I was at least going to pose the question. Does everyone think that hospitality requires some form of personal and if there’s a difference between an organization that’s built on a high or isn’t a hospitality organization or a charity that has the intent of bettering people’s lives if there’s a difference between that and then an individual being hospitable and where the line can be drawn between hospitality and just somebody individually being hospitable on whether it requires a personal connection because realistically the organization does require personal motivation. Most likely requires personal motivation from the general public. Cause a lot of times organizations need donations or volunteer workers or lobbyists or people to help them with their cause. So at some level there’s almost an indirect personal connection because the motivations of the few are helping an organization reach the many who are in need, but at the same time, there’s less of an actual connection between the two people who are taking part in whatever transaction may technically occur. That’s all I have to say right now.

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:13:17

I would say that I think it requires an individual connection and an individual connection. Doesn’t have to be something super strong. I think about it in the context of a business, obviously you’re not going to feel like it’s not hospitality to say, making general statements to customers about, it can be small things and the way that they do marketing, like, Oh, treat yourself something like that. And so I think that that would be an Enfield connection or any way that you interact with people within the organization can I think a large part of it is making people feel wanted. Like and then also I think that, I don’t know if there’s, I guess I would say the difference between organizations and people being hospitable is that obviously people make up organizations. And so for an organization to be considered hospitable, I think that each individual has to embody it within themselves. And so I guess I would say that’s the distinction.

Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:14:23

Yeah. I think that’s a really interesting point. And I also think about do we want, and this might be kind of off topic, but I also feel like, do we want to be hospitable? Just because I feel like hospitality implies that there is a barrier between you and whoever you’re being to. Like, I’m not hospitable to my parents. I love them. And I treat them very well. I’m not hospitable to my sisters. I know them and I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m hospitable to people that see you. Like, it’s just like something. So, do we want institutions to be hospitable or do we want them to be something else?

Angel Nwadibia – Co-executive Director, Planet Justice: 00:15:44

I think that’s a really good question. Like a really good question, because I think it brings up questions again on identity, because when you’re hospitable, I’m pretty sure if you Google the definition of hospitality right now, it’s like you said, you can’t be hospitable to people that you directly know. You know what I mean? You’re hospitable to a stranger, someone whose identity within the same communities that you identify with. So do we want our institutions to be hospitable? Do we want to personally be hospitable? I think it all draws down to the question of how defined or emboldened do we want the lines of our personal or community identities to be? Because if you’re not hospitable and if there’s a different framework of human interactions that replaces hospitality there is no longer that recognition of difference and rather everything, or a lot of things become same and their merits in that, but there are also legitimate questions or legitimate arguments against creating that sameness.

Rose Clubock – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:17:20

And also going along with that, identity thinking about that, if someone’s hospital hospitable to someone else it kind of implies ownership of a place or a space. So being hospitable to who it kind of implies who’s in the inner group or who’s the one who’s a guest there. I also think that there’s a time and a place hospitality. 

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:17:50

I think about it in the context of CU, like when all the new fellows are coming in, I don’t think you obviously can’t treat them the same way that you treat your family. Like you can’t treat them in the same kind of way because you’re just knowing them. But I think that there’s a different kind of, you have a different kind of hospitality when it can be a transition, so just because we’re being hospitable to the fellows right now doesn’t mean we’re always going to be hospital like it will transition and grow into something else. But I do think that there’s a time and a place for it, especially with businesses, right. Like if they’re not forming a deep relationship with their customers or organizations are only seeing people and they don’t have to form that relationship, then I think that would be a place for hospitality.

Brendan Carroll – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:18:55

I’ve got a question, but it’s kind of off topic. If you can’t tell too usually a question type of person noting that we’ve been kind of going back and forth about family stuff and then strangers and if there’s a fine line between that as well, it was making me think about the hospitality industry. And just the fact that that’s what it’s called when a lot of at least the hotels, or I would say the main thing of the hospitality industry a lot of hotels or any companies involved are multi-million sometimes billion dollar companies that are making ridiculous amounts of money. So does anybody think that it’s kind of a farce for the industry to be called the hospitality industry? When there’s a motive for their services that directly benefits themselves kind of like we were talking about earlier the United States and some of their aid programs for foreign nations or underdeveloped nations is sometimes to save face or it’s just for their own personal gain.

Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 00:20:15

I also feel like there’s a question we need to answer. Cause I feel like we’re bouncing around it, but not really answering it. It’s like, when do we expect hospitality? Because I feel like everyone’s like, Oh, back to Ashley’s point earlier when she said do we want to be hospitable? And all these different points that people are making. So when do you expect it from others?

Brendan Carroll – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:20:45

To answer that, I think you need to think critically about cause we haven’t mentioned this yet, but to think critically about the concept of manners which I think everybody holds to a high esteem, but when you when you kind of get down to brass tacks, it is a social construct in and of itself. So it really depends. Cause sometimes people be offended if someone who they’re interacting with they believe has poor manners. So I guess that most typically happens in something that’s supposed to be a formal setting. But yeah, I’m skirting off the topic now, but I would say probably overall you’d expect hospitality when you feel that somebody else has, as somebody said earlier, when you feel somebody else has either some form of authority over you or has some attribute that allows them to help you onto their level and quotes, which may call for a reassessment of some of the societal standards. We have these basically in any form or circumstance you should probably be able to offer your help to somebody if you feel the need to do so. But if that’s at least what I thought of or what came to mind for me if that’s coming to mind for me and if anybody agrees, I wonder if it’s time to readdress how we view the subject as a whole.

Rose Clubock – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:22:30

I feel like I expect hospitality or appreciate it when I feel like I’m coming into a space that I’m not on the inner circle of. So for example, when I joined the CU fellowship, I appreciated the hospitality and the general message thread because I felt like in the out-group that I was coming into a new place that I was not part of already, but I think on the reverse hospitality could be a negative when you are made to feel like an outsider in the group when maybe you aren’t already and in a society, or in any kind of place. 

Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:23:14

I really resonate with that point I think and I guess I think to an extent, hospitality done, is intended to help people feel safe and welcome to within the space. But hospitality done wrong could really like you exclude someone or help them feel even more awkward, I guess. Like I just appreciate hospitality really. I value it the most when I’m entering spaces that I’m not super comfortable in or if I don’t know how to do something, like it helps for me to have someone to tell me like, Oh, you’re hanging up your jacket here. Or do you want some of this? Having someone guide you around a space that you’re unfamiliar with makes me feel good. Just not when it sounded in a condescending way.

Angel Nwadibia – Co-executive Director, Planet Justice: 00:24:21

Yeah. I agree wholeheartedly with Rose and Ashley, and I think the operative word is definitely condescending. I feel like I’ve been in a lot of situations where either because of my gender or my race, I am automatically pushed out into the outgroup and there have definitely been situations whether it be an extracurriculars or with school where I feel as if people are sickeningly sweet, I should say with the hint of not necessarily venom, but bitterness behind their quote unquote generosity and hospitability or hospitality. So I definitely think that I appreciate hospitality when it’s genuine, when it’s pure, but going along those lines as well. I definitely appreciate hospitality when it’s very clear that the other person who isn’t in the position of the stranger has absolutely nothing to gain from being hospitable and generous. I brought up the parable of the good Samaritan earlier, in that story, there was absolutely nothing to gain on the part of the good Samaritan and helping the men who had been robbed. And I think wounded I don’t remember the story, sorry that well, but rather than going about his day, he decided to stop everything and help this man in a way that once again, would bring absolutely no profit or gain to his own existence or to what outsiders would see to his material existence. So I think hospitality in the most genuine sense of the word it’s just is always appreciated, but I don’t expect it, because especially in this very overly commodified world as exemplified by like the hospitality industry that Brendan brought up earlier everything is commodified. So there’s always something to gain. Whether it be monetary or social currency.

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:26:44

Yeah. I think that what I’m gathering is I think we can all tell people’s motivations behind when they’re doing something or there would be being hospitable or whatever else. And so I think it really just comes down to when I appreciate hospitality is when it seems like Angel said, they’re not doing it for their gain and they’re being genuine. And I think that after a certain point, and after you’ve known someone for a while, or depending on the situation, it’s almost puts up a border because like we said, hospitality is mainly for strangers. And so if it’s in a space, it can make you feel like an outsider because it’s putting up a border. I feel like hospitality, is the connotation that you act differently when you’re being hospitable. And so it’s by the very nature of you, putting on almost a face or it just it creates a wall and it creates a divide between people. And I just think it’s a lot about like, interpreting people’s motivations behind why they’re acting that way.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:28:12

It makes me think of when a host that thinks they’re hospitable gets really annoyed when you don’t follow every manner that they expect from a guest. I wish we just didn’t even pretend that you’re trying to be as hospitable. This happens a lot when you’re, I’ve had some bad experiences with the East-West divide. So I’ve been in business, some Asian households where I’ve rubbed some people the wrong way. And I was just acting like a Western raised child. But yeah, I think it’s super ironic when people identify with something. Are they almost the opposite of it?

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:29:26

Okay. I kind of want to get more specific here to your, because I think there’s a lot of variation with what people consider hospitable and not. And so, I would ask what makes you feel like what makes you feel like the other person is being hospitable and what makes you not feel like you’re the person who’s being hospitable

Brendan Carroll – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:29:56

When there’s pressure to accept what they’re dishing out sometimes in my family, at least I always feel like because I’ve been raised by parents who make sure that, I was saying earlier in terms of manners, make sure that we’re always polite to people or we at least try to be as polite as we can. And when we’re in somebody else’s house we’re respectful, blah, blah, blah. Which I personally think is something that most people should do. Just show a common kindness to one another. But also my dad coined the term “politeness it is” specifically when my mom will sometimes try to be almost too nice. It’s like, we’ll be sitting at dinner and she’ll start cleaning up and we’ll be like, mom, you can sit it’s fine we can clean up. And she like, no, no, no, sit down. So it’s obviously personal experience. And I wouldn’t say that she’s not being hospitable in that sense, but it really depends on if you have a personal connection and understanding what the person that you’re receiving, whatever favor from a specifically. Cause when my mom’s doing that, I know that she’s just being kind and she’s being motherly in quotes. But if somebody else was acting that way towards me, I don’t know if I’d have the same reaction because it would almost seem like their incessant if they announced what they’re doing to you or they’re like, Oh, okay, I’m going to go and do this or I’m going to go and do that. And it seems like behavior like that makes you almost feel like they’re only announcing it or they’re only performing whatever act it is. Because they believe that they should be congratulated for it. Or because they feel that their acts deserve some kind of recognition. I don’t know if that makes any sense or if I’m articulating that well but that was the closest that I could come to as of right now for answers.

Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 00:32:14

I think like Gary’s point was kind of like when you feel like someone is not hospitable. I think my point would be for when someone makes you feel that way is like, what if they tried to adapt the new environment kind of to like who you are and your interests. That’s what definitely feels hospitable to me. 

Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:32:47

I feel like what’s hard about it is hospitality is so tied to culture. Like hospitality, looks differently in different cultures. And if you are someone new going into a space, you don’t know what that culture is. And so that culture version of hospitality might not be the same anymore. 

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:33:05

So there’s some things that like, so for instance, if I’m somewhere and a stranger asked me a question, kind of just show interest. I would say that would be hospitable, but then I think of my orthodontist’s but the other day I was at the orthodontist and he asked me a question like how’s school. And they were like, Oh, do you have a job? And I would tell him about it. He used to be like huh. Huh. And you could tell that he didn’t even care. And so that’s even worse is when you pretend like you’re going above and beyond, but then you’re actually just going way below and you don’t care at all. And I remember that experience way more because he made it look like he was taking the extra effort. I probably wouldn’t have thought of it twice if he wouldn’t have said anything. And so that’s interesting to just think how, it really hurts when you kind of trick someone into thinking I actually care and then they just it’s the opposite. So I hated it.

Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 00:34:15

The era before, when I went to college. And I think every adult you meet is like, where are you going to college? What’s your major? I’m like, you don’t actually care at all. Like you ask every single young person this, like it was the worst. I hated that.

Brendan Carroll – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:34:34

See if you couldn’t tell as of yet, I like to talk a lot. So since I’m within that process right now I will respond to them with a lot of answers which I guess is sometimes a combatant for it. Because I enjoy talking about it to my parents and everything. And I know a lot of people find the process stressful and it is stressful at times, but there’s just something about it that I weirdly enjoy, like it could just because I’m kind of a nerd. But at the same time, it’s like, we’re talking about talking to strangers about college. If an adult is asking you about that stuff, I feel like sometimes to avoid being hurt, like when Madison was saying in the future, realizing what is their actual, like how much are they actually involved in the conversation? You kind of have to see how long they hold on to the points that you’re talking about and the things that you’re actually interested in. So it’s like ramble as long as you can. And if they’re still engaged within a minute or two, then they may actually be interested. But if not, they’re just throwing it out there for the sake of conversation, saving other kids from this.

Rose Clubock – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:36:10

I feel like what we’re getting at a lot with people are saying overall, it seems to be that it’s you feel like someone’s hospitable when they seem invested in you personally as an individual. But that feels like they’re not investing in personalizing as you are. So that’s why I feel like everyone’s saying something similar to that.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:36:43

Yeah. I know we talked about it earlier, but this was really resonating with me that hospitality often implies a role difference. And for some people they like to make it a status difference that you are able to be hospitable because you are higher status. So I think I’m going to notice that more. I didn’t really think about it that explicitly before.

Angel Nwadibia – Co-executive Director, Planet Justice: 00:37:19

I have a question slash provocation I guess on a more macro level, do you think that countries need to incorporate hospitality more into their policies? Like an example, immigration policy? Like what do you guys think about that? 

Rose Clubock – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:37:37

I think they do need to do that because recently I’ve been reading some research studies on government institutional policy and one issue that seems to come up was or bureaucracies that make the person who’s trying to get government services, do all the work to get it. Especially when people who are trying to get government services don’t have as much resources in the first place. So it’s harder for them to have the time or resources to keep working, to get this government help or resources. So I think that to make effective policy in immigration or in social services or anything like that, it needs to have a more emphasis on hospitality and reaching out to the people who actually need it.

Brendan Carroll – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:38:48

If we’re talking about immigration policies, maybe having more hospitality it’s kind of important to call them mine too, without even considering the people who want to come into the nation. Or no, I guess considering them, in addition to the fact that we don’t really have a universal concept of hospitality at least through the government, within our own nation. I mean, just within our own citizens as opposed to potential citizens or prospective citizens are people that we’ve made promises to help, which that in and of itself, I think is a failure of our democracy. But then when you look at it on a national level at least for the United States, you look at the failure of the stimulus bill or I guess the coronavirus response bill out of all the money that they were able to organize. And I’m not trying to oversimplify the issue and say that it’s easy and that you can give people more money, but the amount of money that they were giving out in stimulus checks it was just kind of discouraging to see too. And especially seeing how much people have struggled over the past few years. Especially considering the government, you can’t really imagine government budget has been expended to a normal rate this year with a lack of public transportation going at the same rate. Military spending is most likely down because nobody’s really focused on foreign warfare at the moment. I mean, there’s definitely some focus, but for a large chunk of time, there was a lot of money that would have typically been spent that most likely didn’t. And now we have purposes and things that we need to spend it on and we can’t even do that for our own citizens. So I think it’s important to call them on that government. As of right now, it doesn’t seem that it’s truly based on hospitality, it’s based more on partisan interest. And that’s once again, boosting your own interests are people just more focused on helping those that they want to help than focusing on trying to help everybody in a uniform manner?

Angel Nwadibia – Co-executive Director, Planet Justice: 00:41:16

I agree, this is tangentially related, but this there’s this very interesting concept that I learned of a couple of weeks ago called hostile architecture. And it’s really funny because hostile, literally antithetical to hospitality, but in the US specifically when it comes to treating our own citizens with hospitality, with more equitable, generous and empathetic policies when it comes to the homeless who don’t have a place to call their home as per their names suggests. And they try to shelter themselves on public works. There’s this theory or mindset that goes into urban planning and construction, where they make a lot of public buildings or just publicly own infrastructure hostile to people who might want to, for instance, sleep there. For instance, I’ve definitely seen some benches that are created in such a way to prevent someone from sleeping there comfortably when it’s very evident that you could have just made it flat so that someone could sleep there if they don’t have a place to sleep for the night. But it’s so interesting to think about how, the end to this is of hospitality is literally worked into the infrastructure of our country. Yeah, it’s crazy to think about, but you guys should look it up.

Rose Clubock – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:43:10

I feel like that point about the hostile architecture I feel like it more is reflects the whole, some of the attitudes towards dealing with things that we don’t want to deal with in our country. Like homelessness is one of them, especially since homeless people can’t vote, I think or aren’t actual constituents of elected officials. And so some of the responses to that are just to push people away and criminalize homelessness basically. And for example, loitering as a crime or hostile architecture so that homeless people are just out of sight and they’re not out there that was a problem that we have to deal with. So I think that also is maybe a reason that people aren’t hospitable or countries aren’t hospitable because the people they’re not being hospitable raise issues that the government doesn’t want to address because they just don’t have the empathy to you, or they don’t have the ability to.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:44:23

I wouldn’t understate the fact that a lot of people are just not thinking about this. It’s not like they’re often thinking, Oh, let’s be as anti hospitable. Just people don’t think about this stuff really. I don’t know if I’ve had a conversation about hospitality like this ever. That’s kind of the point that we should probably be talking about a lot of these things and it’s not going to come from politicians that have to fundraise 70% of the time. You know what I mean?

Brendan Carroll – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:45:02

Bouncing off of that. I, at the moment go to a Catholic high school. And I do think I’ve had conversations, at least not of maybe this subject matter, but the same general concepts or different ideas about I guess like coming-of-age stuff as well, where they talk about like the ethics of drug use and the relationships and blah, blah, blah, but almost all of that, which I think are very important conversations including things like this, like hospitality and what its role in the government is. Almost all of those conversations have come through a religion class and thinking about that now, I wonder why, I think I know why, but it’s interesting to consider how things that are so important to talk about it and mention are relegated, at least within my school. And I know within a lot of schools nearby to classes that are based on religion as opposed to something that’s like a social studies class, an English class where these topics are addressed directly. At least we’re talking, I just most recently to tie it into something that we’ve learned in US history right now, we’re talking about the reconstruction. You could very easily tie conversation this into reconstruction and incorporate a more ethical standpoint as well to engage students. So that it’s not all just a one sided dispassionate conversations almost. But that’s at least my own personal experience. I wonder if anybody else has.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:46:53

Well, I would just say, emerging partner is actually we’re beginning to partner with people and organizations that are related to the Vatican and the guy that Ashley and Madison actually met on Friday. So we were talking about subsidiarity. But it’s really interesting, the Vatican over the last couple 230 years has been releasing and in cyclicals, which are basically philosophy documents that they broadcast into the entire world Catholic world, but also anyone can read them and they’re about how to organize society. And it’s not the same thing as how we might think of public policy where it’s just the zoning, shouldn’t be this big. It’s like the nitty gritty of legislation should be downstream from the sort of philosophical documents that talk about things like dignity and spirit. Which it actually does make sense to me now because I’ve been thinking about this, almost obsessively over the past couple of months, just like, why is human flourishing so absent from history, just education in general. It’s cause they’ve removed that. They engineer that out somehow from our compulsory education system. So I guess it was kind of cool that at least some schools are teaching some of the stuff. But you know, I think our modern government really reflects the sort of hyper materialist kind of worldview where it’s just about allocating dollars to increased square foot of this material resource, that sort of thinking. And that’s just not enough.

Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:49:43

Yeah. That’s a really good point. Like true hospitality required you to consider the other person, as a human being, as a complex, multi-dimensional human made and not just a number or not just not a box of check-off that you did X, Y, and Z, and then you’ve achieved your hospitality obligations and it’s time to move on.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:50:11

Yeah. That’s so funny. It’s like you can’t boil down something like being a good person until you know, these three steps, you’re a good person and this is why it’s beautiful to have these sort of conversations because we should never, as a species stop having conversations about what we should be doing, what we ought to do well, what we ought to be. Cause that will change as the world changes.

Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 00:50:45

Yeah. I think Ashley’s point too. It’s like that point I made earlier about before college, everyone was like, what’s your major at college you’re going to. And after college it’s what do you do for a living? Like, it just feels like, people are just putting you in this box and that’s what makes up your entire being or what their judgment can be based off of you. Rather than the complexity of you as a human being.

Brendan Carroll – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:51:12

But to go off of that, it is partially on the individual. But sometimes I think that what people bring up in conversations that in small talk in quotes is kind of, would they feel their duties to society as well because people are saying, at least I feel like what we’re touching upon is, Oh, what are you doing for college? Or what do you do for a living? They’re just kind of asking you is if you’re some robotic figure within a grand army of robots that are just working for this capitalistic empire. But as a whole, those people are most likely unless they do have some bounding status, like we were talking about earlier. Even though we did touch upon the fact that status is also kind of decided by how much we’re willing to submit to it. Those people are likely part of the same well-oiled machine. So until you retire, it’s really those types of questions. And maybe instead of wondering why those people will continue to ask you things as if you’re a robot, it’s almost like why do those people themselves hold themselves, I guess, to lower standards? Like almost as if they are part of the same system and that there’s no outside the box thinking that can be done or no improvement that can be made within your own life. You know? I don’t know if I, once again, I don’t know if I’m articulating that well, but I hope that it was kind of came across.

Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 00:53:17

Yeah, I know what you mean. I was watching Joe Rogan episode the other week and he was talking about after it was before it was right after high school, he moved to a new place. I think it was like an older woman or something was like, Oh, are you going to college? And was being super hospitable. And as soon as he said, no wasn’t going to college. He was instead of training for fighting or whatever, it was her whole mannerism shifted completely. Like she automatically lost respect for him in that moment, which was weird, but she was trying to be super hospitable as a new neighbor. But then his simple answer changed her thoughts real quick.

Angel Nwadibia – Co-executive Director, Planet Justice: 00:53:57

This all just reminds me of respectability politics. Like how our worth is predicated upon arbitrary things about, I guess part of our being like Julia brought up earlier we’re more than what we do. We’re more than what we study or where we study. And like Gary said, there’s just an entire society that’s engineered to like frame our mindsets in this way. So when Brandon brings up the individuals who ask the questions, not only the individuals who the questions are levy to it’s almost like you can’t blame them because we’re all just stuck in this vortex of exchange value and just seeing people or just seeing relationships as transactional, you know?

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:54:54

Yeah. So John says is that people often treat other peoples as standing reserves for basically resource pools. Right? So you see someone you’re like, it’s almost like you’re seeing natural resources to extract and you can tell when someone is treating you like that. Or, I think often you can feel weirded out, but honestly, if you don’t talk about the philosophy of it and you don’t have the vocabulary, you may just discount your own bad vibes. Now that I think about it.

Angel Nwadibia – Co-executive Director, Planet Justice: 00:55:48

So true. And this is why are we desperately need an overhauling of the education system? Like you brought up a quote last talk with Irv, the paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, God-like technology. And I honestly, not only do I think in addition to that lists that the author original author of that quote gave there needs to be something about extremely, not futuristic, but ahead of its time philosophy, because I feel like all of the questions that we’re pondering right now, so many people have fleshed it out in the works, like when it comes to hospitality, what’s his name? think has an entire lecture series on hospitality and how you know, based on his experiences as literally an outsider, this guy was a Jew and Algeria, not a practicing Jew. And you know, there are so many people who’ve written about. So many of the problems that we’ve talked about today, or that we talk about with the Trek or just in the realm of public policy. And there’s a reason why we don’t have comprehensive philosophical education because people don’t want us to critically think. And because when we critically think, we realize that there are so many ways that the world can be so much better, but that is not in line with our quote unquote over materialistic way of being currently. So we need definitely civics education and philosophy.

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 00:57:44

Yeah. I also just want to kind of reemphasize something that I said before, which is I really don’t want to overstate just how, methodical it has been that our education system is so bad. I think it’s tempting to be like, there’s someone engineering a really bad experience for everyone, but I think it just happened to evolve over time. And people kept adding stuff to it, adding stuff to it. And then no one felt like they had power to make it better. And also if people in power never had a deep philosophy education, like how do you expect them to design a good philosophy education for other people? This is just a guess, but I would imagine very few adults that I’ve met have been able to have conversations like this ever in their lives or very much at least. And I think when we brought in for the last few times where we brought in a boomer or older they’re blown away cause they also don’t have these conversations on a regular basis either. And so they’re very glad that we’re having these conversations.

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:59:19

Yeah. I think integrating more philosophy in school is important because right now it’s really inaccessible. It seems like something you have to be super educated to be able to dive into. And honestly, a lot of it is really hard to dissect and participate in. And so I feel like that would be la good approach is to de-stigmatize it. And I think it’s philosophical thinking doesn’t have to be like, I don’t know. It doesn’t have to be as hard as a lot of people make it seem there’s definitely a wall that’s put up that makes it really inaccessible. Anyone have any final thoughts on this question before I move on to reflection? Cool. Okay. I’m going to go ahead and send the link in the chat so that you all can look over. And I guess I can start with my reflection. So this is kind of what Gary talked earlier, how he said that he doesn’t really have conversations about hospitality name. I think that’s because we don’t have comp if it’s genuine, you’re not going to have a conversation about it. So I think that we only have conversations about hospitality when it’s almost not hospitality or it’s anti genuine hospitality. So I think about what Angel said about the infrastructure, I’m sure that there were conversations about we’re going to design this bench in this certain way, because it will affect whether or not they are able to sleep on this bench and then also thinking about certain businesses you need to act this way. So it appears that you’re hospitable, but if someone is genuinely hospitable, they’re not going to have to talk about it. It’s not going to be a conversation. It’s something that’s going to come off very naturally and that they’re going to do naturally.

Angel Nwadibia – Co-executive Director, Planet Justice: 01:01:31

Honestly, after this talk, I’m just a little, not down, but disappointed at how truly transactional everything is, you know nothing is really genuine and not me putting myself on a moral high ground because we all fall victim to it. I think Brendan was the one who mentioned college app season. All of that is such that it was so transactional and I participated in it at basically every teenager participates in it. And we’re taught from such a young age that hospitality is only worth doing, if you can gain something from it. And I’ve fallen into that trap. My parents have definitely fallen into that trap, but since finding religion they have tried to see the error in their ways, I guess, but it’s kind of not depressing, but just seeing how macroscopic and microscopic false generosity, false hospitality is, is very saddening, but also angering and that anger can be used to better the system. So very glad we had this conversation.

Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 01:03:03

Yeah. really like how we kind of talked about hospitality, both on the large scale of nation’s responsibility to be hospitable, but also within our families and what that looks like. And I definitely kind of second thinking about also just did not realize how transactional hospitality was until this prompted me to think about how even at home, what I’m taught from a really young age that was hospitality. So arguing with other person on who is paying for this meal. And you have to argue at least 10 times until it’s acceptable or that’s a thing or when I was younger so my family has so it’s three sisters and we will at least in Taiwan, we call like friends’ parents, like IE which means aunt. And so, my dad would literally encourage us all to line up in a line and synchronously say, Niaho as a greeting, this is so transactional. And I just did not realize like how much of that is how much of that is done without actually thinking about why you’re doing it and how that is supposed to make someone else feel. It’s just something that we default to. So it’s almost like hospitality is a default action, but your default was created for a reality that exists second, it won’t have a go in. It’s not replicated in the same way now. It’s making me think about a lot of stuff.

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 01:05:05

That check thing really resonated. I know when my mom and aunt and grandma all together, they literally fight and try to give their credit card to the waiter first. 

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 01:05:21

I didn’t know that this was so kind of cross-cultural something that, I mean, we could just have another trek on more community or some aspect of it. I’m realizing community is such a humanizing it’s being part of the communities to humanizing experience because you maybe for the first time beyond your parents who sometimes treat you like a resource to be honest like optimize this machine. But I think a community could be one of the first times you receive hospitality that isn’t transactional and this is why suddenly I wanted to bring up. I guess I’m bringing up now is there’s sort of an, I feel like it’s an ironic that there’s a community industry that’s coming up because it’s just a V2 of the hospitality industry. Cause you’re going to have communities as a service. How does that work? There are really hot startups especially young women entrepreneurs, right? Where you pay a bunch of money to be part of this community where that treats you kind of like a customer, but they call it a community. So I guess just not really much different. It’s nuanced, but I think where this is a good conversation for many reasons. I wanted to have this because we’re just ramping up the civics and fellowship orientation. And what Rose said earlier that we have to like, because we do know the ropes, right. We have to kind of be in that role of here’s how to do all these things here is all that’s around you. But as soon as we can, like ASAP, we need to be treated as equals, you know? And so I think there’s a very in order for hospitality to be very genuine, you have to think about it a lot. So, maybe that’s a good takeaway to continue thinking about this.

Brendan Carroll – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 01:07:58

So I was just thinking about it and it may be because I was doing AP Lang homework earlier. But I thought that the only way to wrap it up would be with a metaphor. So everybody always talks and this is definitely interpretative, but everybody always talks about the founding fathers or the early politicians of America’s like the architects of American democracy. And that’s not to discredit them either, but you consider what their initial intent was and what they had written down and things like the constitution and even, I guess the articles of Confederation and then you learn about their individual interests. And I think what I’m basically getting at is let’s say they are the architects of democracy. And then thus that branches out is they’re essentially the architects of American society. They’re building this society and this democracy with the breaks of generosity and care and unity, but they can’t do it without the scaffolding of self-interest. And it’s just difficult to see that that seems to be continuity basically throughout all of American history. I mean, except for a few different points in time, I guess you consider on an actual political level, you consider a revolution of 1800 passes, a peaceful passing of power between the two different parties. But even then there’s fighting it seems to be on a governmental level. And then us precipitating down to an individual social level a constant form of self-interest and no matter how much you want to help everyone there will always be someone that’s displeased or no matter how much you want to help everybody, there will always be somebody who’s more self-interested than you and is just trying to please those who they know that they identify with. And they’re not trying to see things from a different point of view without rambling, too much to tie it back to the education system. I think that’s why art as a whole is so important because we don’t have an invention right now where you can transfer your consciousness to somebody else, or you can truly see something from another person’s perspective, but art and artistic expression are the closest that we’ll get to vicariously experiencing that. And that’s why I’m a huge music person. I’m a huge movie person. I can appreciate visual art too, but the fact that it’s kind of looked down upon, unless you’re a major success within our society through any field of art to pursue a career like that when it’s so important because you can truly clue you into what somebody is actually feeling. It can help you open your eyes and move towards a better solution for everybody. I feel like that should be touched upon more in the future as well. I know that that wasn’t really mentioned so, sorry for kind of getting off topic, but I just wanted to bring that up before we finish.

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 01:11:38

Okay. Any final thoughts? Well, thank you all for staying on for longer, it was really good conversation and I see the chat and I see some more ideas for some future treks. So that’s awesome. 

Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 01:11:55

Brendan, real quick. How was your first trek?

Brendan Carroll – 2021 Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 01:11:59

Valid, to be honest. Sorry to be using slang at the end. I tried to keep it professionally composed throughout, but I liked it a lot. Cause I know that I mentioned, I like to talk a lot, but luckily I have conversations enough like this at dinner, cause I’m a gifted with a family who’s very open-minded and very willing to talk about stuff like this. But it very much felt like I already knew all of you. And to tie it back, you were all being pretty hospitable. Well, no, honestly it didn’t because it felt more natural than anything. I enjoyed it a lot. Thanks for giving me the opportunity.

Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 01:12:35

Yeah. I don’t know whether or not to take hospitable as a compliment or not after this conversation. So we’ll leave it up to interpretation. Have a great rest of your night, everyone, and we will see you soon.

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