What was the last meaningful interaction you had?

Beautiful fireworks, Crimea
Beautiful fireworks on black sky at night

“That’s not funny,” she said. “People live like this every day, scared for their lives. They are used to the sounds, but the reality of the danger never goes away.”

It’s a Wednesday afternoon. Outside, the Berlin winter is doing its best to remind us of its presence. Inside, the walls that surrounded Walter Ulbricht now watch over us as we sit in the foyer. We are both MIM students, she from Ukraine, I from Nigeria, and we are waiting for the lecture to start while we discuss what we did for Christmas. “That’s not funny” was in response to my giggling about her New Year’s experience in Ukraine.

You see, Ukraine is still experiencing conflict with Russia, a conflict that started in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea, a conflict that has resulted in a death toll of more than 9,600 Ukrainians and displaced 1.1 million, according to a September 2015 report by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), and 400 deceased Russian soldiers by October 2015 according to The Washington Post. Due to the understandable tension, the New Year celebratory fireworks were toned down to avert alarm or panic should they be confused with gunfire.

In the background, the TV shows figures of the expected influx of migrants into Germany in 2018. We are all migrants, due to education in our case, for economic or welfare reasons in theirs. She and I discuss the migration and its effect on the economy: Where will they go? What services will they need? How can technology best serve them? In their homelands, what industries have been lost and which still exist? How does this impact the life of the people there?

Fast-forward twenty minutes; we are now in the “people management and leadership” lecture. Professor Gianluca delivers research released in 2017 on the role of emotional energy on leadership. Focusing on the traits of good leaders, he instructs, “Think about the last meaningful interaction you had.” I recline and remember, “That’s not funny.”

I write this puzzled, excited, and a bit taken aback, reminded as to why I chose ESMT. An international student body giving insight from around the globe, outstanding professors to delivering pioneering research, a culture fusing the theory and practice of management.

What was the last meaningful interaction you had? I seem to be having them quite often here at ESMT.