Not A Jigsaw Puzzle

“Life is not a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces don’t need to fit together perfectly and you don’t need to use up every piece. In life there are pieces left over.” –Allan

Allan, the founder of Culture Project, walks around the office each day emailing and speaking on the phone with people. I always look at him as a figure I respect and value, however, I never had the opportunity to expand my opinion of him, for before this time, we had only interacted about three times the whole summer. When I have spoken with him, he always comes across very knowledgeable, cHowever, yesterday I asked him if we could discuss our project for the rest of the summer, and he said, “sure, let’s have a meeting tomorrow morning.”

In order to avoid giving you every minute detail, I will summarize the meeting and tell you how well it went. When Allan rolled over from his desk to the table where we were sitting, he asked, “ok, why are we having this meeting?” So I took charge and described our wishes to leave this internship with something solid that can show our work here at Culture Project. I discussed that we had done much of the researching and human rights work but we were missing the creative link, the bridge to the “theatre” that we so eagerly desired, and so we believed a documentary would be a great way to link our research to art. Allan took in all that I said and then told us he had a different idea, He suggested that instead of focussing on just the “stigma against those in poverty” blueprint, we not waste our work on the other two blueprints (immigration and education inequality) and that we create a short film about ourselves and the experience we had here at Culture Project, and what we’ve learned. He suggested that because it will be hard to interview many people on one subject (poverty stigma) due to summer hours, we interview ONE person in each field and ask them three questions each, which if answered, would prove to be beneficial for those who follow in their footsteps. He even suggested different well-known people in each of the fields we are researching and said he would contact them and ask them if they had 30 minutes for his interns next week. So great! I loved the idea of interspersing our thoughts with those in each of the fields and I was really glad we spoke with Allan. However, when we were done talking about our project, I wanted to keep talking. So, I opened my mouth (once again) and asked Allan how he was able to bridge human rights and theatre.

That’s when he says, “Well first of all, abandon the notion that I ever had a plan.” I loved that. The rest of what he said was really very inspirational and at the end of his explanation, he perfectly tied everything together with that jigsaw puzzle analogy and said, “well at least that’s my philosophy.” I found that by listening to Allan, I realized that life really cannot be perfectly mapped out, and with an idea, even one person can make a difference. Allan said, “you can get people to do amazing things if you believe in what you’re doing.” He was inspired by an idea that someone had to go around and collect testimonies from people on death row who claimed to have been wrongfully convicted. Allan believed in this project and told these people he would fund their trip to gather these testimonies if they could produce him with a script by october. They did, and that was Culture Project’s first hit: “The Exonerated.” I am so glad I got to learn more about Culture Project, but more importantly, I am so grateful for the inspiration such a short talk has given me. I have always believed I am going to make a difference in the world, and Allan is walking, breathing, living proof of that.

Until next week,

-Anoush

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