Monday, June 10, 2013

The People

One of the most enduring cliches you hear at b-school usually goes something like this: "...and the best part of all is THE PEOPLE!  They are all so wonderful and amazing!  OMG I'm gonna miss these [insert cute nickname of people at a particular school] so much!"

I think some of the people are great.  Some are phenomenally accomplished, some are incredibly smart, some have plans to change the world via [insert cool new sustainable energy concept, AI platform that solves [insert problem], etc.

Others, maybe not.  Some are just ambitious twenty-somethings who spent a couple years in consulting, punched a ticket with Teach For America, or who "walked away from the corporate thing, man" to do one of the most conventional things possible.

As for interesting people, and the interesting stories that narrate their lives, you could do worse than look at the Guard/Reserve.  As I've written here before, my reasons for sticking around are mostly practical ones, but one thing that always reels me back in when my mind starts to drift is the chance to spend the first weekend of my month with some pretty amazing folks.

I'm about to head to Worcester.  It's an Officer Candidate School board for a kid who grew up in Baghdad idolizing Michael Jordan and watching American movies to learn his impeccable, American-accented English.  He became a civilian 'terp' (interpreter) for the U.S. military.  He served honorably in that capacity for several years, frequently exposing himself to as much danger as any front-line U.S. troop (think about it...he has to be front and center in pretty much everything to perform that role).  He came to the U.S., and now lives in this "general area" (and that's as close as I'll get...he likes his relative privacy).  He enlisted in the Army Reserve.  Although he had an advanced technical degree, it was earned in Iraq.  He "sucked it up" and served as an E-4 while waiting to finish a Bachelor's in the U.S.  He is now about to sit in front of a three-officer board who will determine his worthiness to attend OCS.

He's got 10 times the life story and perspective of the typical student at a top-10 b-school, but with only 1/10th of the self-importance.

Having tea with a guy like THAT the first weekend of each month is something I look forward to. That's the type of person I'll miss once he goes for his "butter bar" at OCS.

Someone who thinks the "world sucks" because JetBlue kept her on the tarmac for 30 extra minutes at Logan?  Maybe not so much.  

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