Small world – or, the power of the social network…

Purely by coincidence (aka, via Facebook), I discovered today that a classmate of mine from Fletcher (the institution where I studied for my MA) is in Tel Aviv. (This is not surprising.  The “Fletcher Mafia,” as the sum total of the institution’s alumni are affectionately called, spreads around the world.  No matter where you are, if you look, you will find a Fletcher grad).

After a few email exchanges we progressed to a phone conversation, and she invited me to join her, her boyfriend, and a few friends for dinner.  Over dinner my friend and I discovered that we have been more-or-less stalking each other this entire month.  She has been seeking out contacts who might help her land a job here, and looking to volunteer and possibly study Arabic.  I have been seeking out contacts who were active in coexistence programs here, and have been looking to volunteer and continue my Arabic studies.  We’ve been in most of the same places, and met with the same people…yet somehow managed to not run into one another.

In any case, my friend invited me to join her in Haifa on Monday when she meets with someone she was connected with via yet another Fletcher student. As it turns out, this person’s name has been mentioned to me at least 3 times in the last week by staff at one of the organizations I am studying – he is an alum and a former staff member who apparently has much to say about the place.  So I’m going to go with her and introduce myself, in the hopes of setting up an interview with him later on.

This particular set of coincidences makes me think about two things: one, how small a world the coexistence world is here in Israel.  Everyone knows everyone else – which I guess is definitely good for me and my research here this year.  The second thing is how important social networking is.  I used to be a real skeptic, but more and more I am seeing the power of “who you know.”  I still have my doubts about some aspects of social networking – especially as it undermines meritocracies – but for integrating oneself into a particular field, especially a small one, it is priceless.


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