Random Strangers in Life ~ A learning experience at The Unreasonable Institute

It indeed was a strange place, very strange....first of all too big, a lot of corridors, and various rooms. It was the middle of the night and everything and everyone seem to have fallen a sleep with even the leaves outside silent for some reason...far away a car would pass down the road and there would a sense of life available. My bags surrounded me in the dark room like shadows starring at me while I stood there starring out of my room window. It was full moon or almost full...perfect time to think..to ponder about lives most strange and unfamiliar places and people and there I was starring out at the moon and asking myself many questions...one among all was, am I going to be able to get what I want from the Unreasonable Institute?

That was the first night at the Unreasonable Mansion, My doubts, fears and confused inquiries to myself nagged at me repeatedly, until I assure myself of various things or maybe just wait for all these questions to be answered. I waited.

In fact, I never asked myself again as there never seemed a need for that. Things started to happen, schedules started to roll, days passed, each second bringing
something new and fresh to my life... until here I am. Today, just before hours to my departure... after 10 weeks.... I am unable to even count down apparently all that I have got from this Institute.

My first tutors were Maria and Trina, My roommates I was blessed to be living
with. I learned from them about love and sharing from the very beginning of the days, about times when I would be reading holly Quran and they would be silent with respect, of times when not even understanding a single word of the music Trina played, Maria would dance and say she is totally ok with bollywood music rocking down in the room, of times when I would feel a little tired and would find Trina sitting near me with a plate of food and glass of water insisting me to eat. Those are my first learnings...

Then there were classes at the University Campus, That amazing morning at the session about legal structures and I remember being amazed at all the options available for any organization to choose from, the possibility of hybrid structures and the opportunities in non-profit and for-profit sector. I was taken aback by the importance of values and legal structure of an organization which to me before have never been of importance. I am now fully aware of where and how legally Sughar can be a strong organization to be able to create high impact social change and become self-sustainable also.

The sessions of measuring impact, did I ever knew how much of a great impact we made until I knew how to actually measure it! The traditional methods of monitoring and evaluation with Sughar have always been a part of everything we did but the impact which is invisible but strongly contributes to the mission of the organization is now the main thing I am focused to measure

I remember having trouble understanding "Market Research", while now my whole business model depends on that! From using media as a powerful tool to pitching to investors I feel the strength of my existing knowledge a lot more better then what I had.

The 30 minute office-hours were the best, but those were the times when I used to think that I may never be able to tell my story even in 30 minutes while going back now I am able to define the whole story with clear structure in 2 to 5 minutes, this is the type of clarity we have got within what we do. Thats not all that we are clear on the most of course, as I am deeply impressed with myself to now define my business model on a napkin to anyone, bring out the financial projections for the next years to come at any point, prove the urgency of the issue by providing data right from the grass root level, while show the success of the venture by providing every single number available of beneficiaries to benefits!

The formal learning at a side, I haven't spend one day here without learning something "informal". Those sun sets at the Mansion when fellows were playing volleyball and I stood looking at how fun it might be, and all of them shouting me to come play... of course I have never HELD a volley ball in my hand and playing is something of different universe. But Benjamin and Ullas had different thoughts, they used to stay after games to help me play, running frantically after the ball each time I would hit at the wrong side.

Everyone have taught me something, looking back I laugh at the fact that it was rather a joy for them to know that I am an ignorant at somethings and every single one of them had volunteered to teach me these things. Rafael was a good tutor, he introduced me to peanut butter and jelly sandwich with double bonus, that is a huge glass of milk and the peanut butter song along with it. cant forget the way everyone starred at me until I took the first bite to declare if I like it or not. Rafael was successful.

Teju, taught me to play Racquetball! one of my favorite experiences, I remember

playing for an hour by throwing the ball at the wall and rushing behind it to hit it again and so on until after wards Teju taking me to a place where some other people were playing racquetball, and when I say playing I mean putting the ball on fire! the ball almost would have blown and ripped apart from the rapid and extreme hitting of these people, I decided I may never be able to play that again....

Trampoline was a wonderful experience, Jasmine was the master to teach me how to "have fun" on it. But before that we needed a trampoline and the irony that our next door neighbors owned one, while we stood here on our porch to stare at it, until a dog came rushing inside the lawn of the Unreasonable Mansion and so did his owner to catch it who happen to be our next door neighbor and grasping the opportunity we asked to use the trampoline which we did use for about an hour until we felt like our bodies didnt have any bone left in it.

I also learned to play Frisbee, by the Frisbee master Daniel M.M, I learned how to make coffee in the coffee machine by Vlad, I learned how to be sarcastic, by
Nikhil. I remember him feeling weird once defining that sarcasm have nothing to do with offending people, "you see", he said "we can be sarcastic by saying, oh its cold when its warm", I hadn't got it till then.... Daniel Epstein and Tyler were good tutors also! "So when you see a car and are the first one to say Shot-gun, you would be able to sit in the front seat". Daniel had said and afterwards I had said shot gun at every single ride out anytime and had enjoyed great views and sent heartily wishes to Dan. Tyler was the one who introduced the famous ever place Target to me, we went into the toy section and he told me to push the huge red buttons of the toys from toy-story and I did that for about a dozen and the whole racks of toys filled with chants of BUZZ LIGHTYEAR!

Jehan was the cultural tutor, I respect his efforts of searching and sending me the whole lyrics of Fresh Prince and helping me sing it the way it is, making me a master in it by the time of Etans birthday so I sing it for him. I cant help singing each time time I hear the words, "Fresh" or "Story" and I would go: Now this is the story all about how, my life got flipped turned upside down.

Justin showed me all kinds of high fives, while one of the best is when hands blow up after a fist high five. I enjoyed learning riding the bike the most also, Maryam was my tutor and I don't think there is any best tutor then her.... I remember her words, "control khalida is what matters", its like how you control like and not let it control you. if you control where the bike is going and know what you do when you are about to fall", you have got it and I did...

Among all the knowledge, experience and information that showered upon me,
One of them I really feel like have changed all my perspective towards the work that I do. Its the power of 1 on 1's. Of relationships built to last... I remember hearing, why does it matter a lot for us to learn as much as we can to be effective in our family relationships. But actually to ignore the ones where we get to spend more then half of the day which is with colleagues and co-workers. And this is what I have learned from the Unreasonable Institute, that taking time to understand, and learn about someone at your workplace can change the whole mode of everyday life.

I always feel like its never about places, nor about time, experience or exposure...its about people. The human beings that surround us are the ones who make a difference in our lives at the right time, sometimes they are officially called tutors while many times they are just random people...more like strangers.

I did live with strangers for 10 weeks, with a culture not my own, where things were unfamiliar for me, sometimes odd and yet awkward for me...but all of these transforming to become my one new family. A family where each single person matters, where everyone is ready to sacrifice anything to help other, anyone is ready to be of service to other and more then anything where every single member is filled with care, support and encouragement for other member. Thats how my family is, My Unreasonable Family.

And now within a few hours I am leaving my family, I am leaving behind the doors where some one would peek inside the room and say, are you up for volleyball? I am leaving behind the porch where all the girls sat to talk, gossip and laugh... no more of running down the stairs to find a bunch of people playing card games at the dinning table... nor would there be the smile of Etan entering the kitchen, the huge pile of cups to take, fill with coffee and walk out to the lawn to be greeted by a group of people sitting and laying on the grass... I am leaving
behind all those moments... the beautiful times at the Unreasonable Institute.. but I am taking back with me something more important. I am taking along with me the memories, the happy and joyous memories which would fill my heart and life with happiness for the days to come and would remind me that somewhere in each corner of the world someone of your family lives who also misses you the most.......

A temporary farewell with deep admiration for all my family members~

3rd August 2010