Tuesday, June 28, 2016

listening to stories

By Andrea Haefner

While we like to present ourselves as AUC as thinking 'outside' of the box, in a way, everyone still thinks in terms of boxes: We are making sense of the world by attaching categories, labels, theories. I guess, somehow, this is what academics do?

For our field of studies, International Relations, we have plenty of theories to describe what is happening in the world. We talk about Liberalism, Realism, Constructivism. We argue that relative deprivation, greed, or grievances is what motivates rebellion. We analyse the importance of identity in a conflict. We think in terms of theoretical boxes.

And when thinking in these theoretical boxes, it can be quite easy to lose perspective. We deconstruct, and deconstruct, and deconstruct until it is difficult to see the whole picture anymore.

Finally, in Kosovo, I felt like I was for once able to see the whole picture. We talked to so many different organizations, institutions, diplomats, politicians, activists, our host families and people on the street that the theoretical framework we had studied in Amsterdam was becoming a reality. With the many perspectives that we heard, I felt like I was not only trying to understand, but was even getting to an understanding. An incredibly powerful feeling, I thought.

Thus, Kosovo really taught me how important it is to go see, listen, and experience rather than only to study. A lesson which is likely to guide me also in my future. A lesson I am very thankful for.

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