You are not alone

Today we had one of those “fluffy” classes. I snoozed 6 times, cursed the cohorts who have afternoon sessions, and finally dragged my feet to class. I was a bit late. ><

It turned out to be a great opportunity to get to know my group mates, whom I've worked with but haven't had enough time to learn about outside of school.

I was surprised by many of their life stories and experience, what they had to go through to get to where they are. When I heard "my mom picked up plastic bags and bottles to dress me and my sister" and "my stepfather left me and my mom and my step siblings", "my father was diagnosed with cancer and left us", I tore. I realized I am not alone. I am surrounded by people with great perseverance, kind hearts and unimaginable strengths. People who've been through the ups and downs of life.

Prior to the discussion, I only know about one of my group mates' military background. I didn't know he was making the decision between Harvard and Yale under the cover in the middle of a missile attack in Afghanistan. I didn't know he grew up in a farmland in Virginia and at age 17, backpacked with his younger brother and best friend around Africa. I didn't know he studied in Egypt and learned a new language in college. I didn't know he put his heart and soul into playing football in college but ended up being cut by the school team. I didn't know he goes apple picking with his girlfriend on Saturday sometimes. (It's so interesting that apple picking seems to be the thing on the east coast. Now I feel bad laughing at my parents' fruit picking habit in Canada.)

Another surprise to me was another group mate, who's always talkative, extremely social and surrounded by many friends. When I heard that he moved to a tiny town of 200, was home schooled when he wanted to social, I respect how he constantly steps out of his comfort zone.

A group mate from Japan was talking about the impact of his work on helping the families of 20 tsunami survivors getting their condolence payments from the government. Compared to him, my contribution to others' well being is not even worth mentioning.

Often we got caught in swirls of assignments, readings and exams and forgot the true meaning of the MBA experience – discovering ourselves and others around us. I was glad to hear the stories of my new friends. Their life experience has enriched mine. Now I am the outlier who just discovered many other outliers. I am not alone.

No class this afternoon. I am ready to cook and have a great meal.


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