I was apprehensive about coming to Poland and doing a project with someone who had opposite beliefs and opinions from mine. I love the industry I work for and I want to be an advocate for pork production. In passing emails before I left, my partner explained to me that she believes pigs should not be raised for meat consumption. That sent up a red flag for me and I was very nervous about doing a project with her related to animal welfare. She is from Poland and they have a different standard of animal production than we do. She is also a vegetarian. 

I finally met her and she had multiple questions for me. She was very interested about my endeavors in China. She was eager to learn about pork production in the United States. She was very calm and easy to talk with. I was relieved that she was interested in my life and what I do rather than criticize me for what I believe. I hopefully helped her expand her knowledge on the production of the animal while maintaining its welfare.

Our project ended up being great. There are many differences between the European Union and the United States. I learned how to be patient and talk with someone who has different views from my own. Without a doubt, that will be the most important thing I can take away from this experience. I think I helped extend my new Polish friend’s learning, too.