Friday, March 09, 2007

9 months later

The Open Society Institute Spring Conference has just started. The Undergraduate Exchange Program 2006 fellows have gathered together in New York. To discuss on their community projects to be implemented back home in the second year of their fellowship. And to party in an an organized fashion :)

It's interesting however how our group has changed since we met one another last summer in Budapest. I think a sociologist or even a trainer would do a great study from the group dynamics that is animating (or sometimes disanimating) our little community. In Budapest, during the pre-departure orientation week, we were all equal... Roughly the same expectations, roughly the same dreams, hopes and risk aversions. We had a great time in Budapest, getting to know each other, getting to discover who's the beauty queen, who's the smart ass, who's the sensitive one, who's the party animal (tribute to you, Mario!), and so on. We all liked each other, and except for a few of us who virtually fell for one another from the very beginning, we were entertaining more or less the same feelings with respect to the others in the group. Apart from a couple of us who had shared some common funky times in the past (Bobi, Sneji and I were already forming a little liberal arts clique), we were all just trying to build a position in the group... Being friendly to all, smiling to all, discovering everybody else, sharing fears and curiosities. The inclusion, opening, exclusion dynamics was beginning to unfold.

We came to the US. Scattered from tiny liberal Vermont, to big city life in New York, puritan Virginia, Catholic Georgia, Midwest (hard)core, and a couple of other places. We all had our little encounters with America... Very personal experiences shaped our paths in the US. Some of us were connected more to the communities we were living in, others to the universities. Some of us collected tens of Facebook friends, I barely managed to get 25 or so in my university. This tells a lot on how we perceived our American experience and how we let it shape our destinies. Up until Vermont I for one was talking only to Bobi (we had been hooked up with the same university, so that was pretty easy to do), Sasa and Mario (my party companions... miss you a lot now, guys), Sneji (old love dies hard) and Alek (who accidently found me on skype one night)...

In Vermont I remember that we realised how different we are from one another. I remember that I was really enthusiastic when I met everybody else again. Jumping around hugging people was more than a posh American-inspired influence that I had acquired. I had missed my Balkan people... I was struggling to find my spot in the US. I had my ups and downs, my fears and loathing, my hopes and cries. During Vermont however we realised that our experiences in the US had been fundamentally different and had shaped us in very different ways. In the big group, the smaller networks came up. Frighteningly so at some points. The 39 dots were united in 5 or 6, maybe even more geometrical shapes.

Vermont went by and there came the winter break. Some of us went home, others visited tropical islands, others made more friends, or strengthened old friendships. Each of us became accustomed in one way or the other to his/ her little community. Sneji was telling me today that she's beginning to enjoy North Carolina, Mario's not seeking refuge in NY every 2 weeks any longer, and Diana is pretty bored by big city routine. I for one am somehow split between my self-contained life here in the US, surrounded by a couple of wonderful people (like Ben on a more permanent basis, Irina, Matei, and all the others, and Wilco accidentally bumping into my life every now and then), with my eternal politicking and keeping myself hyperactively busy, and life back home, with projects and dreams and plans.

And now came this reunion... I walked in Cosi today and saw everybody in there. It was strange. I was having such powerful feelings towards some of the people, and I felt I knew so much about them, and maybe half of the others or even more were a big enigma for me. Who were those strangers? Ok.. we were UEP-ers. Smart and outgoing people. But that was it. Some of them are flesh and blood and feelings for me, others are just matchstick-men (or women). I might have missed out on a lot, but I guess group dynamics just works this way. I hugged everybody today, talked to everybody, laughed with everybody. But it's still flesh and blood and matchsticks that I see before my eyes...

1 comment:

Radu said...

hey, crezi ca i-am speriat eu pe toti cititorii si comentatorii tai? :)
Ca parca de la o vreme incoace doar eu vorbesc.(si-mi place! lol) zi-mi, daca trebuie sa tac.

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