I am sitting in a lecture hall, surrounded by thirty-two new faces. The seat is slightly uncomfortable; I adjust myself. The speaker walks in, is introduced and begins to lecture. As I sit listening to the speaker discuss the concepts of change, development and freedom, I am struck with a strange notion. These are not just concepts that are analyzed theoretically. They are not ideas that I will have to write a term paper about. These are ideas that I will begin to face on Friday. The questions that have been posed to me regarding an individual’s inherent rights, what development means, and how change can be both beneficial and effective, are ones that I will be confronting first hand and figuring out the answers through my own experience. The idea of applied learning is exciting and somewhat shocking. It seems to me that it is rare when structured learning applies to life. After all, how many teachers have heard the questions “When will I ever use this?” I am so excited to be learning what I know will be immediately gratified as I travel to the developing world.
Besides these broad philosophical ideas, we have also been discussing many of the issues that the modern world faces. Every day we discuss a multitude of issues, some of which the speakers themselves have been working on effective solutions to solve the problems. In just one day, we heard from experts in global health, education, technology and economic development. Although these are quite general topics, the speakers dove into specifics offering their own forms of solution. We have examined all of these issues from different perspectives, even listening to people who focus on the same issues offering different forms of resolutions. I must admit– hearing about all of the problems in the world is a bit overwhelming at times.But that’s not all! As part of the training, the fellows have been examining issues of community and individuality. We have been given tools to ask questions and receive criticism. We have all learned how to effectively communicate through different types of media. The personal growth component is an essential part of training as well, as we are constantly push each other and push ourselves out of our comfort zones.