Living in a Philanthropic World

Jon. (2012, May 16). Muscle Confusion Got Ya Confused? Warrior fitness. Retrieved from

Jon. (2012, May 16). Muscle Confusion Got Ya Confused? Warrior fitness. Retrieved from

What is philanthropy?

That was the first question I remember asking myself as I walked into the River Building bright and early on Monday morning.

The answer was plain and simple: I had no idea!

The second question I asked myself, what is social innovation, earned the same response.

Sure…I knew that social innovation was “novel” and that it focused on “big” change. I knew that it valued local knowledge, collaborations, and partnerships. But what did all of this really mean? I had done the readings, taken notes, and completed the pre-assignment. Yet, somehow, I still had no idea what was going on. There I was, a public administration student, heading into my first ever philanthropy course on social innovation. And I had no idea what any of those words meant!

Feeling extremely nervous and unsure about myself, I walked into Room 3220 that was to be our home for the next five days. I was immediately greeted at the door by the professor, Omar. I thought I would feel some relief….finally, I would meet the mysterious person sending me emails and course outlines, who had been hiding somewhere in our online class forum for several weeks. But, instead, I felt more confusion: The only Omar I had ever known was my favourite character from The Wire. But here Omar was, standing right in front of me, with no do-rag and no Baltimore accent.

I suddenly became acutely aware that I had left the real world as I knew it, and entered the Philanthropic World!


Everything was different here. The desks were arranged in a weird way and everyone kept referring to the classroom as a “learning space”. What was a learning space? Again, I had no idea. Just another thing I had to add to my list of things I didn’t know, which seemed to be getting longer and longer with every minute I spent is this new world.

Even the faces were unknown to me. They were new, and much older than mine. As I navigated this new environment, I very quickly felt really small and terribly aware of my age.

Where was my world? And, how could I get back?

I desperately wanted to escape the Philanthropic World!


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