As stated by the American industrialist Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is a progress. Working together is success”. We hear quotes like these almost on a daily basis. But they only relate to us through experience- the only way to really understand a deeper meaning of quotes or sayings. Being in the DEN Book Team has taught us a lot. For Ford, success was one person or a group of share-holders whilst many who were ordinary workers were left out from a real benefit. So, for him the profit was paramount. For us is about collaboration, sharing, believing that we can work together regardless of geographical locations, colour, ethnicity, race, beliefs or age group. Our goal is to have a different word; one that we are demonstrating through our action.
What really is a team? The first thought that comes to mind, to me at least, is: a group of people of the same age sharing mutual interests. Projects like this showed that this is not so important. We are all from different levels, some of us are first, second or third years and some are even in their masters. And we also come from different cultural backgrounds. This is what makes us a team. We learn from each other by collaborating. It has been such a fruitful experience. Every meeting, one of us talks about what happened in the previous meeting. So, a first year would be chairing the members who are much older and far more experienced. This really helped us gain confidence. Not just about us, but about our work, our writing and thoughts. Writing coursework and assignments for university is not a big deal. Teachers are the only ones who end up reading them and marking. Getting your work read by several people, from different years, has been a completely different story. For instance, an essay about development of the Third World turning into an article on the Covid-19 experience of these countries, or an essay initially being about democracy and development becoming one on how democracy contributed to maintaining the pandemic. After editing and giving comments on the articles, that team member was presenting it. It feels really nice to share our thoughts with each other. Hearing someone else talk about your article, and share what they think the purpose of it is, and of course give comments on how to improve. We understand how to relate articles to the main agenda of the project: in this case Covid-19. We develop so many skills such as writing skills, editorial skills, and presentation of ideas of other people. I believe that a key to writing professionally is to be able to transform your own work. Editing is not just making a few changes, is it? It’s changing the structure, context and perhaps the content of the article. Most of us, in the team, chose an essay we did for university as a coursework during the first semester. Then we shaped it into an article related to the agenda. This has taught me a lot. It gave me confidence. I now strongly believe that I can easily change my work into something it initially was not about.
So, what was the DEN Book Team project all about? Learning how to edit? Teamwork? Collaboration? Gain confidence? I think it was much more than just this. It was an opportunity to really discover yourself. I have learnt so much about my own capabilities during this project. When you share your ideas with each other, you motivate each other. It is not just about communication. It’s about support. This is what I learnt by being involved in the DEN Book Team. And this is what all of us will take with us, once this project is finished.
You can read the experiences of the team here!
Zohra Shamim, Politics and IR