This semester I was fortunate enough to participate in a discussion group as part of a class. The class itself had 750 students, but each discussion group only had about 15. Needless to say, it was conducive to relaxed, informal, and sometimes personal conversations that would likely not happen in a room full of 750 people. We met once a week and generally discussed things related to class, but it wasn’t unusual to digress completely and talk about random (yet still important) aspects of life.
Within the first few meetings, a few people spoke up with ease but many of us were still “testing the waters”. Over time, however, we all grew comfortable with each other and were able to contribute meaningfully to the conversations.
At our last meeting of the semester, we did an activity with nothing but a big red ball of yarn. We were sitting in our usual circle and one person at a time would respond to a prompt (for example, “who has grown the most this semester…”, “who has challenged you the most…”, etc.). The person answering the question, who had the ball of yarn, would pass it to the person who they thought fit the prompt. There was a quick explanation of why that person was chosen, and the game continued.
At the end of this activity, everyone had gotten the ball of yarn several times and the center of the circle was completely filled by a web.
Not only was it an enjoyable way to spend the class, but I think it was a profound lesson in human connectedness. Fifteen weeks ago we were all unaware of each others’ existence. We may have passed each other on the street without thinking twice. We may have stereotyped each other. We may have even ignored each other. But just put people in a room and allow them to talk, allow them to be human together, and all of a sudden a bond starts to grow, like a seed. Bring those same people back once a week for a whole semester and that seed just grows and grows.
An important thing I’ve learned from this experience is that people are amazing. Just within this small group, everyone could listen with a friendly ear. We could all sympathize, relate, and even understand our different perspectives. We all had something to say. We all had some idea, experience, or insight that we could offer our fellow classmates. I find this so humbling. People are amazing. People are unique. People care, and people want to be cared for. People know that we’re all in this together. And most importantly, people are people. They’re just humans, living their lives, thirsting for some compassion and meaningful interactions. And when you get past the surface of someone, you realize just how connected you really are, and ultimately, how connected we all are, to each other.
This whole semester of discussion group was amazing, and I’d like to just say thank you to my entire group. Thank you for being a part of my life, and thank you for sharing a part of your life with me. I learned a lot from each and every one of you, and I truly hope we will meet up again in the future. Thank you for being receptive to my thoughts, and thank you for trusting me to be receptive to yours. You are all amazing people, and I wish you the very best of luck in all that you do. Hope to see you around
Photo by sachyn