Have you ever felt that you are surrounded only by like-minded people?
I certainly felt that in late 2019. From time to time, I disagreed with people around me, but fundamentally we shared the same values and opinions.
I guess most people have similar experiences since it seems evolutionary – we are drawn to conversations that validate our thoughts. However, a flip side of being in an ‘echo chamber’ is that our growth becomes stunted. By not challenging our own beliefs, we worsen the chance of forming a meaningful relationship with a person located at the other end of the ‘metaphoric’ aisle.
One of the reasons Saïd Business School sets itself apart from other educational institutions is its ability to bring people with diverse experiences and thoughts under one roof. Thus, I wanted to take the opportunity to develop myself to engage with people who may have a completely different worldview. I can ecstatically state that the MBA at Oxford did not let me down. During one of the classes (Organisational Behaviour) in the very first term, I got the chance to hear perspectives from two ends of the spectrum.
While each class requires us to undertake some pre-reading, the energy before this class was particularly palpable. The hallways and chatrooms were buzzing with discussions. October 26, 2021 was the day my class finally arrived. I’ve rarely seen courage in real life as I did during the class that day. Since I won’t be able to do justice to the points raised, I will focus on how the discussion made me feel during the class and in retrospect.
When you speak from personal experience, the stakes are higher. My peers who had diametrically opposing views and life experiences bravely laid everything out on the table. They engaged in a conversation that sometimes got heated and, at other times, deathly silent.
I was impressed to see my peers challenge their belief systems in the pursuit of understanding themselves and the world around them better. The class was a perfect example of why debates are important and how crucial listening is to achieve meaningful discourse. As someone who is usually chatty in most classroom discussions, I did not make a peep that day. My silence was a testament to the impact that day’s discussion had on me.
I’m certain that most of my classmates took something deeply meaningful from the class that day. For me, it was the importance of continuously engaging with people who you may not see eye to eye with. Only by participating in such conversations do we have a shot at moving forward in one direction as human beings. It certainly is a class that I will remember even on my deathbed.
As I pen the last words, I am getting a little misty-eyed thinking about not being in the same section in the coming terms. Here’s to all the wonderful people of Section C who truly made my Michaelmas term outstanding.