Inspire me, I will inspire you!

A few days ago, I put my laptop into my backpack and walked into a coffee shop. I was planning to update my resume and apply for jobs for Fall semester, but I’d missed out something; I like observing people and making up stories about them. It is a good way to distract yourself.

I ordered and picked up my coffee, found a table, settled down, opened my laptop, and started to watch the people inside and outside of the coffee shop. Some of them were in rush, few of them were working on their laptops; some of them were tourists and came in just to slake their thirst. Then I noticed him. He was trudging. Frankly, he has an illness. It took almost 5 minutes to walk only 5–6 meters for him. Then he took a seat of a man’s table who was in suits on a warm Saturday. I was watching him. A few times our eyes met. I turned my head to another direction, but he caught me. I guess, he took a rest and stood up, walked through the cashier, asked for some water. He got the water, came back, looked at the map on the wall of the coffee shop and asked me a question about the giant map of the world. I answered “I don’t know”. I was shocked at that time. I thought he was disabled and not able to speak, but he could speak as an American, unlike my thoughts. He got his response, came back to his seat. Then I asked him if he’d like to have some coffee because I’d get some for me. I got an interesting response: “Then I will give you a very nice conversation.” I knew that this old Japanese man was not a random homeless person.

He introduced himself. When it was my turn, I said “I am Rabia” and spelled my name. Then I added “I’m a scholarship student from Turkey. I am studying my master’s degree on Digital Media Design for Learning at New York University”. Introduction was over and the first question came: “What is the main reason of Global Warming?” I responded him relying on my less and basic level knowledge: human being! Second question: “What is the best solution for Global Warming?” I answered: “Education!” Then I talked about what I am doing with my life and this amazing organization, UNLEASH Innovation Lab, and what we are going to do in there. I was surprised by his response: “I have been watching the young people since I came in and I have noticed that you look different and caught the spark of intelligence in your eyes.” And he asked my future plans. I simply answered this question, but there are many meaningful sub meanings: “Becoming a researcher”.

This old Japanese man presented me his solution for Global Warming in a very scientific way and expressed his desire about going to Silicon Valley and talking to those young, open-minded scientists about this solution. Then he asked: “Do you think it works?” I said “We can never know unless we try”. We didn’t forget to talk about CERN and that “experiment” with this former scientist and physician. And he asked me: “What is the main reason of Global Warming?” And started to talk about his solution in the same scientific way. He asked about me and my future plans. He asked again: “What is the main reason of Global Warming?” and explained his solution in the same way. Then I understood that he has Alzheimer’s or a similar illness (I am not an expert).

Why I told you this story? Because this well-educated man has proved that -in my opinion- education is not just a formal process that occurs in buildings, or educational institutions. It is always in progress, it is a lifelong journey and sharing the experience one another. We can learn in every moment of our lives and we can learn from every individual on the planet Earth.

Everything is connected to each other and I strongly believe that once the required educational opportunities are given, next generations will be more aware and take care of this planet.