Obscure learning

At university, I studied for a degree that has been of no benefit to me professionally. That’s not to say it couldn’t have benefited me professionally: by now, most of my contemporaries are in director-level roles in the international development space.

But even if my degree did not benefit me professionally, it has been a useful bedrock for my life. I don’t at all regret taking apparently obscure modules like environment and development in South Asia; refugees, returnees and development aid; or border disputes in the Middle East.

For contributing to my understanding of the world through these turbulent times, I very much appreciate studying the development of Iran’s oil industry in detail. In helping me to understand population movements, I’m glad I studied India’s Green Revolution.

Had I had the confidence and motivation, and not been dealing with the heavy maladies of an as-yet undiagnosed condition, I might have built a career on that foundation of learning, rising through the ranks of the Foreign Office or United Nations. Alas, that was not to be.

But no matter. In life, those studies have provided firm foundations of another kind. To have a more nuanced understanding of the world, unswayed by domestic propaganda. To see the story behind the story. To probe deeply, and delve beneath the surface.

Thank God for those opportunities to learn of what was most obscure.

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