We have different motivations, ambitions, dreams and capabilities but each of us has the same question in our head: “Who am I?”, “What do I want?”, “Why am I here?”. If you had an answer for those questions and if that answer is “I want a better world for everyone”, then you will assume that life and karma will help you. Probably you believe that you are working for a great purpose, even after realising that your role is a cog in the machine; you knew that the machine is essential for a better world.
Unfortunately, as years pass with daily routine, heavy responsibilities, unconscious internalisation of institutional culture and many other reasons, life itself teaches you that the machine is not working as you dreamed when you were young. It is not helpful or friendly, and worst of all it seems that the world doesn’t want to be a better place. Then you start to ask the same questions in a different way, like: “Was that it?”, “Can this world change?” and worst of all, “Does the world deserve to be a better place?”.
After serving over ten years in my country’s civil service, I realised that to change the world, first I have to equip myself with the right skills, and I need a different angle to solve the problems of my world. I started to search for help and found the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford: the world’s best public policy school at the world’s best university.
I was ready; I was motivated, I believed that BSG would equip me with the right tools and perfect recipes that would solve the problems of this world as quickly as magic from a Harry Potter movie.
After one year in this over 900 years old University, with some of the world’s most intelligent minds, chatting over the deepest points of the intellectual profundity of our times, observing the people who build doors when opportunity doesn’t knock, I found something different and something far greater than I was expecting.
When I combine all the lectures, seminars, speeches and workshops that I attended this year, when I sum up all the rituals, traditions and precedents I followed this year, when I checked my notes on all readings I did this year, I realise that “I changed”.
The moment when you understand that changing the world is easier than changing your habits, your prejudice, your perception of the world, you realise the value of the education at BSG.
The moment when you understand that your reaction to the news, to new information, to people you listen to changed, you realise how valuable the education of Oxford is.
The moment when you realise how your expression of yourself in writing and speaking changed, you realise the power of inspiration of this school.
When you are surprised by yourself at the terms you used, that the concepts you touch are quite different than those you used to, you realise that you changed.
I am not saying that I became a better person or a better civil servant, this will be decided by time. But I am sure that I changed. And I believe that this is the ultimate aim of an education. Isn’t it hard to change a mindset, a mentality and behaviour to make people think differently?
I am not saying that it is an easy and entirely positive experience. But isn’t it the negative experiences, struggles and challenges that determine what we get out of life and what we gave to life?
In my ten years of experience, I always believed that being super smart, super intelligent, super knowledgeable should be the key. At BSG, I met people that surprised me, inspired me with their courage, moral compass, passion and acumen. I found out that the “Foundations” is the key to everything. I learned that it’s not always about knowledge but the right attitude, the right strategy, the right timing are also necessary.
At BSG, I met with some amazing people who achieved great things but hide it with humility or still do not realise how great they are and what they did. I became friends with the people who want to make a difference in this world. I became a part of a family. A family that dedicates itself to a world better led, a world better served, a world better governed.
In the midst of your career, when you feel you need a transformation of yourself to a new level, BSG is the right place.
As wise people of ancient times said once: “Disce quasi semper victurus, Vive quasi cras moriturus.” – Learn as if you were going to live forever; live as if you were going to die tomorrow.
Atila Yanpar is currently studying for an MPP. Prior to joining BSG, Atila served for over ten years in various positions with securities regulatory authority of Turkey.