Quizlet was honored to host Arlie Russell Hochschild, the author of Strangers in Their Own Land, for a talk and conversation with the Quizlet team earlier this month. Hochschild is a professor of sociology at UC-Berkeley and self-identifies as a liberal. While Hochschild is a natural at adapting to different cultures, having grown up around the world while her father was serving as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service, she found several years ago that she was having difficulty relating to people in her own country who did not share her social and political beliefs. To scale this “empathy wall,” as she describes it, Hochschild decided to find the place in the United States most unlike Berkeley, California, and move there.
Hochschild chose Lake Charles, Louisiana, and moved there for five years. In Lake Charles, she found a wonderful community of fellow citizens and friends, from whom she took away insightful lessons about the divisions in our country and how those divisions arise. Hochschild spoke with the Quizlet team about her experiences, her friends in Lake Charles, and what they taught her about our the United States.
Quizlet is proud to offer a service that seeks to help anyone who wants to learn and advance themselves. When Quizlet builds new features and products, we do so without a narrow use case in mind — but rather, we aim to build something you can use if you’re a child or an adult, in a city or or a small town, rich or poor, in Kansas or California or Colombia.
In the months following the 2016 presidential election, there has been a lot of focus in the public discourse on divisions in the US — and naturally, that discourse has spilled over into conversations at Quizlet around the lunch tables. As Quizlet strives to be a useful tool for anyone, we also strive to understand the differences across America (and outside America) and, where possible, be a bridge that connects people. Regardless of personal experiences or political beliefs, Quizlet’s users share a common goal of advancing their education.
Quizlet’s team of just under 60 people represents 19 U.S. states and six countries. However, we all currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and continually remind ourselves that to be a great company that serves everyone, we need to understand the places and cultures from which all of our users hail.
Hochschild’s talk was hugely valuable as our team strives to stay connected to our wide and diverse user base, and make sure we we constantly remind ourselves of our own biases, prejudices, and predispositions that could inhibit our ability to connect with and serve every kind of learner in the U.S. and around the world.
We are very grateful to Prof. Hochschild for joining us, and sharing her unique and insightful experiences with the Quizlet team!