We are taught, from an early age, that teamwork is essential. From a young age, we are trained to ‘do well in teams’ and ‘cooperate with friends’. Naive young children, whose simple life allows the luxury of altruism, do this rather effortlessly, and play well with others, and help each other to achieve common goals. Adults, on the other spectrum, have no choice but to cooperate and work in the team because their job and livelihood is on the line.
Like most concepts, it is when it is gray that becomes troublesome. This is where the professor announces that there’s going to be ‘a rather simple group project’.
College group projects, one of the bigger horror stories to some, has been a topic for many tragic lores, sleepless nights, broken relationships, sometimes development of a negative stereotype against a race, and doubts on one’s view of democracy and welfare.
It always starts rather smoothly – four not-completely-strangers, but not-to-close-to-know-their-number classmates are gathered around a table, discussing the group project which is worth 20% of their entire course grade, which is a substantial amount to some, but not too much to others. This is where the initial conflict begins, where the gravity of such an assignment differs. This is commonly expressed as ‘star-crossed’ in the romantic term, where destiny would simply not allow this group of people to get along.
The initial misfit is only exaggerated after the essential, but always dreadful ritual, ‘finding a meeting time’. There’s always this person who has a bizarre schedule, where a class is followed by three meetings and a seemingly reschedulable commitment, like ‘working out’, ‘hanging out with my girlfriend’, or ‘walking my cat’ (this is something I actually heard). With the emergence of such a person, an ominous cloud hovers above the group, and everybody starts to calculate how they can do less but get this done, and for some reason, just doing more work than others is NOT an option.
However, there may be hope. A hero emerges from the clouds, with its 4.0 GPA as an armor, infinite obsession and pursuit for an A as a sword, and almost scary organization skills as a shield. This person, if everything goes wrong, is even willing to take the whole burden on its shoulders. Unfortunately, the emergence of a hero always results in the emergence of villains. Some ill-minded villain, knowing that the hero will save the world no matter what, creates chaos – by not showing up or by posting on the groupme-chat, ‘sorry fam’. The hero, having to meet the obligation of an archetypal hero, sacrifices its sleep and personal time to save the world.
The final day, the due date, a crumpled, damaged world is carefully bandaged together as a compass2g submission. The world is saved, but not to the hero’s content. The hero, although its job complete, doubts the things it has been fighting for, and seriously contemplates, if given an option, becoming a villain next time.
Jin Whan Bae/ Intern Reporter