I have now spent two weeks in the UK and have been loving every minute of it. Sure I miss home and probably need to call my family more often, but the time I’ve spent here has been incredible. In the past two weeks I have visited the pub C.S Lewis, JRR Tolkien (and the rest of the Inklings spent every Tuesday) at least 5 times. I have spent countless hours with my classmates and have started to get past the initial greetings portion of any new relationship. I spent 3 days in London including a wonderful date with the cute flight attendant. We went to one of the oldest pubs in London and to an amazing tapas restaurant in central London. After 3 years of DC “tapas” this was phenomenal as a full meal for two was less than $40 and the food was incredible, fast, and beautiful. The date went nicely and we are scheduling another (for those interested).
I also had a chance to attend an gathering of LGBT leaders, both under 30’s who are shaping the consulting, financial, and legal realm and senior executives of BP, HSBC, Credit Suisse, and Forbes, Inc. Finally I spent a day helping canvass for London mayoral candidate Syed Kamal (if anyone is interested in meeting & helping out with the race let me know!). It was awesome to notice the similarities and vast differences in campaign tactics and techniques in the UK vs USA.
What has been truly amazing is the mental transformation I have been going through as I continue to seek an open mind. Let me tell you, it is hard! However, one instance gives me hope that I can keep growing in this capacity. I am going to be vulnerable here so please forgive me my failings.
After bussing back up from London late one night, Matt and I went to the housing complex right behind the business school where a large crew of our Indian classmates were still having a party (it lasted 9 hours in total). We joined for the last 2 hours and for whatever reason I was expecting to walk into a very-foreign environment, one where Matt and I were the only white guys. To be disappointingly honest my gut reaction was one of semi-superiority. “I’m coming from the states”; “I have had some amazing experience;s”; “I have a unique perspective.” … yada yada … prejudiced BS that was coming from somewhere inside of me.
HOW WRONG I WAS and how glad that I am aware of it now and also feel comfortable enough with my classmates to share this vulnerability.
I met amazing people that night who come from highly successful and remarkable backgrounds; but at the end of the day we are all, above everything else, human. Regardless of country, race, gender, sexuality, religion, creed, or any other barrier. We are homo sapiens. And beyond that, what we share in common unites us. Nothing made this more clear than 2 key items.
The first was the power of dance regardless of music and culture. We all danced to Indian music and Hip Hop alike and shared a connection in the dance that help shatter my ridiculous, pretty-naive mentality. The second was the connections we shared in growing up as evidenced by the loud group of 15 people singing the theme songs from Ducktails, Tailspin, and The Lion King.
The biggest lesson I learned in the past two weeks was the continual need for me to have an open mind, as free from pre-conceived notions as possible and baring that a constant recognition that in the end, we are all human. The things that divide us are as consequential as someone having blond hair or red hair, right handed or left handed. We can choose to make a hullabaloo about them, but in all semblance of the reality that at our core, we are all the children of the stars and our differences are utterly immaterial. With so much that connects us, being biased based at what divides us is a waste of time.
I hope that my candid expression of ridiculous thoughts will be taken in the spirit they were written, one of humility and in a place of growing understanding. To my Indian friends in particular reading this I sincerely apologize for any absurd thoughts I have had and hope you will forgive me in the future as I continue to fail (although hopefully with far less frequency and obviousness.)