Some people are interested in space, and I don’t mean a shrug-of-the-shoulders interested, I mean stop-dead-in-their-tracks-to-talk-about-nothing-else interested in space. How do I know all this? Well, I am one of those people. I find my friends sometimes rolling their eyes when, yet again, at a dinner party I begin waxing lyrical about the wonders of the cosmos and our place in it. How can I not? 2019 saw the first ever image taken of a black hole from over fifty-five million light years away…I’m doing it again! Stopping dead in my tracks to talk about space. But maybe it is relevant, hear me out: why do we get so excited about these things so far from home that we cannot even fathom the distances? Think about it, when that photograph of the black hole was released, what was everyone doing the next day? Talking about it. For once we dragged our phones away from our faces and spoke to each other. People on the morning train couldn’t help but strike up conversations with their fellow commuters about the sheer awesomeness of human genius. And for that moment they shared a togetherness in the knowledge that they too were part of that club of homo sapiens, irrelevant of culture and background – this, after all, has been a global project.

For me, these endless discoveries from our cosmos are not exciting because we might contact some alien race, they are exciting because they bring us back to connecting with our very own human race. As Carl Sagan once said of a photograph of the earth, taken from so far away that all you see is a pale blue dot, “That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.” And on this pale blue dot we are a community, a place where friendship should matter more than anything else. And on this pale blue dot is a pale green speck, with an even paler dot, where I, as an even paler dot, sit writing. However, there is no paleness here, I am in one of the Speakeasy rooms lovingly named Nordend. It feels fresh and vibrant. And just outside the door I can hear laughter. Always a good sign. The sound is only broken by the whirring of the coffee machine as classmates excitedly discuss what they have been debating, with fervour, in class. I catch only snippets of the conversation, but it appears to be concerning the very nature of what it means to be human. That is deep for a Wednesday afternoon. It is this that inspires me about Speakeasy, the lively interaction of its students and staff; there is a real community here where ideas are shared and discussed, and laughter is in abundance. I worry that I might have drifted into the realm of cheesiness, but is that not what a community should be all about?

I have an Armenian friend and we have never shared an English word together and yet we have discussed everything from music to arthouse cinema (we are both huge Andrei Tarkovsky fans…I digress) – and this is one of the things that motivates me to keep going, to be a part of this global community. A community that thrives in our tiny corner by the Main river. It is not just about being a language school but a social language school. A place that reflects a love for learning, not by rote but by actively being involved in the life around you, to let your voice be heard, to contribute and interact with your fellow students from all over our pale blue dot. And with this love for learning comes a love for socialising with your fellow homo sapiens, to learn about their culture and their ideas. To crumble the tower of Babel if you will and get back to that united sense of humanity. I have often wondered if I am prone to hyperbole but when I truly reflect upon it, I don’t care, it is true that we can all be part of this wonderful community. And as I now zoom out from this happy speck that is Speakeasy to the pale blue dot that is the world we share, I can’t help but think that those friendships forged, those fervent discussions discussed and that happy laughter by the coffee machine can have a place everywhere.

Boasting is an ugly quality but if I am permitted a brief foray into this arena, I will say that Speakeasy truly boasts a community. A community where you can feel that life is so endlessly delicious. That we are brought together through these wonders of life and culture. As always this has been this week’s Thursday Thoughts. Good night and good luck.