When Alexandra Slusher heard about One Small Step at church, she knew it was something she wanted to do. The daughter of an immigrant from India, she had traveled extensively, gone to college in Hawaii, and experienced different cultures throughout her life. And so, she immediately connected to the premise of One Small Step.
“I’ve always felt that knowing people takes away the fear,” she says. “And fear is really where prejudice comes from.”
Perhaps her history as a portrait artist allows her to see the inner qualities of people; Alexandra remembers being enthusiastic at the prospect of her conversation. Talking to strangers, after all, was always something that came easily to the retired office manager and substitute teacher who moved to Virginia from New Jersey almost 40 years ago.
It didn’t take long to discover some commonalities with her One Small Step match. From the outset, they discovered they were practically neighbors, living just one block apart in rural Goochland County. She also learned that she shared a common heritage with his wife, who, like her mother, is Indian. And while she is a Christian, Alexandra has studied a variety of religions, and so she had an underlying understanding of his Buddhist faith.
Alexandra describes herself as a “democratic Republican”– a little more conservative than most Democrats.
“Once we started talking, we learned we had so much in common, even though we thought differently politically,” Alexandra says. “Perhaps the biggest commonality is that we are both intellectually curious people.”
When she returned to Seventh Street Christian Church after her conversation, Alexandra shared her experience and encouraged others to participate. The church has a history of bringing disparate voices together. At one point, she said that the head of the Richmond Republican Party and the head of the Democratic Party were in the same Sunday School class.
“That led to some really interesting conversations, and back in those days, people could have conversations without getting upset about it,” she remembers.
Through One Small Step, perhaps past is prologue.
Interested in participating in your own conversation through One Small Step? You can sign up to be paired with a conversation partner here.