A Two Week Journey
The Hungarian school system does not even try to foster the joy of togetherness and teamwork. When I was still going to school there, I had to do almost every task (presentation, research, essays, you name it) completely alone, and to be honest it felt pretty good. The outcome of my work was not dependent on anybody but myself; I did not have to attend group meetings, divide tasks amongst the team members, or worry about others at all. It was all so simple and easy, until I started my school year in Andover last year and I was quickly confronted by the realities of group work. There was some group element to every one of my classes, and it was not easy. Most of the time when we had to collaborate in Math or English class my experience was dreadful. I felt uncomfortable, insecure, and ungrounded while working with others. Consequently, I always did my best to avoid being placed into a group and work alone, for example as I was carefully positioning myself in the room during one of our Physics labs so that I would get my own working station. Even though my ability to work in a team tremendously improved during last year, leaving behind most of my anxiety and awkwardness associated with it, I still chose to complete my Math final project alone this June.
Based on what you know about me so far, you could rightfully assume that Niswarth has been a very hard experience for me considering that the program is pretty much grounded in group work. That was quite frankly true for the first week of the program, but by now my opinion on teamwork has changed a bit. I find the quote “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” especially relevant and true. I still think that it is easier to work alone, but working on our DFC project this week has shown me that I would have made so many mistakes if I would have attempted it alone. By working in a team, the quality of our work is definitely a lot higher. However, what is more important than the technical details of team vs. individual work, is the experience of working together, i.e. the joy of togetherness. Throughout those five hours that we have spent together working on the project every day we have had so much fun. There have been times when we have been simply laughing a lot and having fun in the traditional sense of the word, while on other occasions we were brainstorming, doing interviews, and working seriously and still managed to have fun. This feeling of having fun while working with a serious face is rather new to me and I have not yet found a way to precisely describe it. It seems paradoxical yet straightforward, illogical yet real, and rare yet so common. And I think this is the joy of togetherness: a silent happiness in an otherwise hard situation.
Just looking at the contrast between the start and end of this June, me doing my Math group project completely alone and feeling the silent joy of togetherness this past week, simply amazes me. It makes me realize how far I have come just in two weeks.