I entered my first class for my Masters Degree with so much excitement that I feared my class mates would think of me as a freak. I was smiling from ear-to-ear and if I had lipstick on I would look like the Joker in Batman. The weird smile on my face was thankfully reciprocated by most of my classmates who were already in the class. While some also ignored me completely for which I will not blame them. I chose to sit somewhere in the center of the class. I think that was a wise choice looking back at my decision.
The class started to fill up and I had Patrick sitting on my right and Brendon on my left. Patrick is a African American who migrated from Africa to America a few years back. Brendon is blind. We are sort of the only representative of our species. Patrick is the only African-American, Brendon the only blind man and I am the only Indian in the class of 30 students. It isn’t too surprising that we connected on being the minority population of the class. For me personally I have never had a serious conversation with someone from Africa or a blind man and this makes the whole experience of learning much more exciting.
I have never represented a minority in my whole life. I was born a Hindu in a predominantly Hindu country. When I traveled the world and lived in London or Paris for training in my sport I saw Indians everywhere so I never really felt like a minority. ( WE ARE EVERYWHERE). This class is my first novel experience in being the sole representative of my country, at least in that small group and I try to make the most of it.
Learning with Brendon and Patrick on my side takes my learning experience to another level. Patrick being from Africa has this unique African accent and has a very different take on Governance and just life in general. He is so fascinated by India and her culture that most of the time when we are trying to discuss a case study in class our discussion always leads us to India. Like when we were discussing a policy on Aviation he asked me this, “So how much did you pay to get married?” I laughed for almost a minute before I answered, “Zero!”. It took him a while to digest that and we had a discussion about the dowry system after class.
Brendon on the other hand has this amazing ability to listen. Just really listen.” I can’t take notes. All I can do is listen really hard and hope that I remember everything.” And he does. He remembers mostly everything right from our first class to the class we had yesterday. It is just truly fascinating to see him recall everything word for word. It took me a while to get past his disability and to treat him normally. He inspires me in so many ways and at so many different levels.
I had heard a lot about studying in American universities to be a different experience. I just didn’t know it would be this unique. My class as a group is really a bunch of very decent and driven people who truly believe that they can change things through the system. Most of them work in Local Governments and their experiences help me understand and really appreciate what Government really stands for.
The class really is about learning to learn in a way I have not experienced before. The class just doesn’t teach me about Public Administration. I also know that it takes me exactly 157 steps to reach my class in the Green Hall building because Brendon who is truly brilliant and my friend told me this.