This past week I navigated internally about why I do this work. Why is this work inspiring? Why should it be inspiring? I reflect on these questions often so that I am in touch with myself when work. And I want to share some of my reflections with you.
So why do I do this work? When I say this work, I mean conversation. My work and our work is conversation. And, I do it because I have an instinctual desire to preserve what makes us human.
I can remember back to my last day of school in India, when I was in the 2nd grade. The Father (principal) asked me what kind of doctor I wanted to be. My grandfather and he were good friends and it was my grandfather’s deepest desire for my future: to have a doctor in the family. I didn’t have a response because I couldn’t envision a career for myself. I just knew I wanted to change the world I lived in: the extreme world of poverty, rape, and privilege. I had seen all three of these at a very early age. I wanted to change the humans of the world.
When I moved to the States and continued through grade school, high school, and even through college, I never felt the desire to have a certain job or career. My heart found solace in WinC and my work has allowed me to access my central desire and realize that it is not to change the world. It is to preserve what makes us human.
From my experiences, I have been able to generate the following opinions about what makes us human: what makes us human is that we all have the capacity to feel pain and pleasure equally. What makes us human is that there is a universal desire for belonging, food, and shelter. What makes us human is that our bodies are built to survive in such a profound way during extreme physical stress. Our human bodies also respond to stress emotionally. What makes us human is our ability to understand and to respond each other. This piece about being able to understand and respond is the key to preserving our humanity.
So what does conversation have to do with that last piece? From my seven years of work at WinC, I have come to believe that conversation is the tool that breaks down the wall of numbness and apathy. Living in a state of numbness and apathy, in my opinion, is being disconnected to the humanity within us. And this way of living is possible because the states of understanding and responsiveness are deactivated. That’s what makes conversation significant. I have witnessed strangers transform their understandings of one another because they were guided through a difficult dialogue. I have experienced my own switch of understanding and responsiveness turn on because of facilitated dialogue. WinC provides a physical and virtual space to listen and to respond to what other human beings are thinking and experiencing. I believe that part of preserving our humanity is to activate our empathy and strengthen our emotional intelligence so that we can actively respond to each other.
Until someone tells me what it feels like to be a victim or a person of privilege in a certain situation, how do I know how to understand? How do I respond with empathy when I simply do not know? Conversations at WinC are inspiring because we allow for people from different cultures to practice what makes them human. At WinC, students are given the chance to see, hear, and understand the global community we are a part of. Students are given a chance to spark their own humanity with dialogue. How can this work be anything but inspiring?