Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Where We Can Be Who We Are

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Today I spent a big part of my day with someone really special. And something really interesting happened that was an important reminder of this one thing: where we can be who we are, our full selves, is different for different people.

Professionally speaking, I tend to be able to by my full self in writing, on my blog or on Twitter, and quite often on Virtually Connecting, but I am slightly less so in person. For a variety of reasons. I mean, I’m still me, I’m just not able to express it all as deeply or fully or something.

Today, I met someone in person with whom I had conversed very briefly online over the past year or so. And in one car ride she opened up to me about so much and then over the course of the day, I discovered so so so much we shared in common. Common values, discourses, aspirations and passions. And I felt like we had lost some opportunities to start these conversations online earlier… But it hit me that maybe not everyone would feel as comfortable making themselves that open in an online context. Or in a written medium.

This should not at all surprise me, of course. We all know the student who is a great writer but quiet in class, or the eloquent speaker who can’t express themselves well in writing. We all know that many people can’t connect, affectively or perhaps even intellectually, with others online, or do not find it as satisfying.

Maybe this all surprised me because this person learned about me by what I do and what I am online. Perhaps because she works in digital literacies and education stuff… And now that I know her, we share even more in common. But I made assumptions before meeting on how deep this relationship would go and I am so happy to realize I was wrong. And now I hope we can find a way to keep this going after she leaves now that we’ve established the face-to-face. Inshallah

This comes just a day before the start of Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute – where via Virtually Connecting (see schedule) I’ll be seeing many people I met last year f2f inshallah. Feeling sentimental and reminded again of the power of this combination of f2f and online to deepen and sustain intellectually satisfying relationships that also truly fill me with love and joy as well.

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