Latin wasn't even offered in my podunk little high school. Most of us drove pickup trucks still half filled with hay to school every morning. My pickup was red, though, so I was cool with it. Anyways, I never learned Latin, so the closest I ever got was Pig Latin. If you have no idea what that title said, then you either speak the real thing, or sorely need to brush up on your fake languages...(tsk, tsk)
Either way, when I came to MIT, I had to look up what Mens et Manus meant, which turned out to be the school motto. It means "Mind and Hand," an homage to the school's ardent belief that "learning" should never be done without "doing." Those two ideals should always go together. Keep that idea in mind as you read on:
This is literally one of the most embarrassing things ever, but I have never been off of North America. I don't mean that I have never lived outside of this continent - which is also true - I mean to say that my feet have never touched the earth anywhere but Canada and the good ol' US of A. One of the very biggest reasons that I came to MIT Sloan was to remedy this terrible shortcoming in my life. And in four days, it's gonna happen, people. I am going to touch down in India.
In the event that you were not aware - in which case, my readers, I will be very disappointed in you - MIT Sloan is world renowned for its implementation of "Action Learning." That title, as it turns out, is a very accurate descriptor of some of the amazing opportunities that are offered here at this school. As is spelled out in "Mens et Manus," Sloan is not only about learning in the classroom, but also about getting outside of walls of the school, out into the real world, to put to use what we have learned and refine our understanding of the subjects that we are taught. Hundreds of students every year are sent all across the world - to Africa and Asia and South America - to put into action our knowledge.
This is all paid for by the school. This is not an add-on. It is, in the opinion of Sloan, part of a well-rounded education, just as much as cases or textbooks or exams.
I will be landing in Delhi this Saturday, and heading about 75 miles north to a small town called Muzaffarnagar. There, my team and I will be working in a consulting role to build a business plan around the recycling of plastics that normally would have been either thrown into a landfill or burned; neither of which are good alternatives. I will get to, within seven months of starting class here, apply what I have learned about Finance, Operations, and Organizational Structure in a real world situation. I will get to work with real people, on a real business that makes real impact. And my experience is not unique. I have classmates that are going to China to work with a company that make LED bulbs, and others that are going to Africa to work with a company that is building a better HIV testing kit. For two weeks, Sloanies will be scattered across the globe, helping business become better, and learning by doing.
Seven months ago, I did not have the tools to help an organization. I also had never been to India. It's amazing that, in four days, I will no longer be able to truthfully say either of those sentences again. In truth, I will probably never get around to learning Latin, and maybe you won't either. But if you know nothing else, know what Mens et Manus means. It really is a special idea.