360 Degree Learning

|Author: Torie|

Syllabus day. A dense lecture and the frantic chatter of my computer keys. Meticulous organizing of a multi-pronged to do list and color coded calendar. Carefully packed lunches and my best friend to debrief my day with. Bite sized pieces of knowledge synthesized in a familiar environment with a precise number on the clock as my finish line. Methodical instructions and three ways to clarify if needed. My own space and silence when I need it.

Body squished between the side of the rickshaw and my team member's leg. Air thick with the exhaust of countless vehicles within ten feet of me. A vague idea of the days work. Sweat beading on my upper lip. Eight flights of stairs. Sitting criss cross on a daybed craning my neck to view the words on a laptop screen too far away. A response at a low volume with an Indian accent. Did I catch that? Fragmented ideas floating towards one another in my brain. Ah, this fills in the gap. Unless I misheard that name.. Reliant upon my memory to trap the stories that were unveiled over the whirr of a conveyor belt.

I cannot flip through my Onenote drive and point to the chapters of learning. The learning is rather felt.. intangible but exquisite. I desperately want to write down every word my mentors are saying, but the nature of the work doesn’t allow for it. I open up my senses and experience it. I can’t recall every topic we covered like a neatly bulleted list, but I go back in my minds eye and see the wrinkled face of the operator, hear snippets of the translators voice relaying his daily challenges. Piecing together information from a widely diverse subset of my life experiences, I make sense of the situation.

The work with the organization is only one aspect of the learning. An environment that once made me uncomfortable has grown into the new norm, one that I am fond of. Living and working daily in a group of four has unveiled personality traits of mine that I hadn’t made sense of before. Plucked out of my social circle and placed far away, I’ve come to question habits that I once blindly indulged in. At times sick and in an unfamiliar place I’ve seen the depth of my independence or lack thereof. Being able to step back and look at my Seattleite bubble as though gazing at Earth from space has exposed vast gaps in my understanding of the world. The last five weeks have led me to wonder if the life I follow back home is in alignment with who I want to be or if I have simply molded to my surroundings.

When I signed up for GCIL I had no idea that I was in for 360 degree learning.

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