MINERVA VOICES

Moments that shifted what I knew to be possible - The people and stories that altered how I want to live life

by Mishaal Lakhani, Class of 2024

March 18, 2024

This is the second part to a two-part series on the evolution of what fulfillment looks like to Mishaal, and how that was unexpectedly crafted through being at Minerva University. Read the first part, on how university generally defines meaning and purpose, and her Minerva experience.

Becoming a magnet for interesting people

Over time, I’ve noticed something fascinating about leading a weird life that’s filled with curiosity: you increasingly draw in experiences and people that reflect your openness and eagerness to explore.

There are many ways you get to a level of weirdness that makes this possible. One of the quickest shifts can be putting yourself in an environment that moulds you to become that.

In my case, being at a university that’s let me live in 6 different countries across continents meant that I wasn’t exactly seeking normalcy from the get-go, and have been filled to the brim with some unbelievable experiences, memories and adventures since.

Living this way, you find yourself gravitating towards a community of people who think “differently”. It’s not just about actively looking for interesting folks; it’s about a kind of magnetism that brings together individuals. These connections aren’t based on accomplishments or titles but on a shared desire to see the world through various lenses and understand it more deeply.

A regular Wednesday night in Taiwan, turns into an impromptu gathering at an ex-NASA engineer’s tea bar, serving gourmet ice cream and tea sourced from around the world. The room buzzes with conversations among social entrepreneurs discussing the future of foodtech in East Asia, adventurers who’ve spent months on high mountain tea farms, and someone is playing the guitar and talking about their new documentary.

This magnetism isn’t about bragging rights or building an eclectic network for the sake of it. It’s about the natural outcome of being part of a community where curiosity, rather than conformity, guides your interactions and experiences.

Questioning what’s valuable: Little stories from my journey

Serendipitous Encounters That Redefine Possibilities

Stepping out of the conventional bubble, this journey constantly immerses you in environments ripe for serendipitous encounters with individuals who are not just “cool” and “interesting”, but truly living life in a way most people couldn’t conceptualize.

These interactions led to a profound reevaluation of what success, fulfillment, and a meaningful life entail for me. It’s about figuring out which aspects of your personal Rubik’s cube matter most to you and exploring the diverse ways to engage with them.

I want to share three connections that stand out vividly from my journey (from the past year alone), though, in reality, there have been hundreds of people who’ve reshaped my views on life’s priorities, gratitude, and significance.

Coincidentally, all of these stories had an element of unexpectedness; yet they’re transformative moments of connection that broadened my horizon of what’s possible. But in all of them, I found an element of how they’d cultivated “richness” in a specific area of their lives.

Meeting the people you want to be like: Richness in systemic change

One encounter that genuinely shifted how I see the potential for change in our world was meeting Sonam Wangchuk. Maybe you know him as the inspiration behind Phunsukh Wangdu in 3 Idiots, but his real-life contributions go beyond the character. An engineer turned educational reformist in India, he’s been quietly revolutionizing the way we think about learning and environmental sustainability (regenerative growth).

His core philosophy — that every individual has the capacity to learn, provided the method aligns with their innate understanding — has led to the creation of an educational model that’s both inclusive and empowering. He founded a school (that prioritized admittance for students who had been deemed by failures of the conventional school system), offering them not just education but a chance to engage directly with real-world problems. It’s a place where learning actually goes hand in hand with doing, and students are given the tools to build, innovate, and lead, and actually do it so well.

Amongst so many incredible inventions, he engineered a low-tech, yet highly effective solution to prevent flash flooding caused by glacial runoff — an artificial iceberg. Designed to store winter meltwater that would otherwise go to waste, is not just a testament to his problem-solving acumen but also his commitment to replicable, sustainable solutions adaptable across different regions.

Meeting Sonam didn’t just change my perspective on education; it expanded my understanding of what it means to truly make an impact. His life’s work exemplifies how deep, systemic change can be achieved through a combination of vision, empathy, and innovation. And it’s something I will strive to embody for the remainder of my life.

The intangible effects of Minerva

This definitely wasn’t something I could have planned or even paid to make happen — it was one of those life-altering experiences that you stumble upon. It’s hard to articulate just how impactful it was to meet someone who not only sees the world in such a hopeful light but also actively works to mould it into that vision. Engaging with him, and absorbing his perspective on education and sustainability, was a feeling I can't really even describe.

What made this encounter so incredible to me wasn’t just the initial meeting at a climate change conference; it was the opportunity to continue that conversation, to keep in touch and learn from him beyond that day. This ongoing dialogue has been like living a dream I hadn’t fully articulated to myself — a dream about what’s possible when you meet someone whose actions and ideals can guide your own.

It also wasn’t about putting someone on a pedestal or just looking for a dose of inspiration. It was more grounded than that — it was seeing up close the impact his work has had on reshaping ideas around education and how we tackle environmental issues. The way he blends innovative thinking with a genuine care for the world has really opened my eyes, giving me a fresh perspective on what my own goals and ambitions could look like. It’s about realizing there’s a way to merge creativity with compassion in our pursuits.

Meeting the people you want to live like: Richness in meaningful connection
The view in front of us is one of the handful that have actually, as cheesy as it sounds, brought tears to my eyes.

Sometimes, you meet individuals who redefine your concept of living a fulfilled life. Sunny was one of those pivotal encounters for me, transforming my perception of what deep connections and meaningful conversations can bring into our lives, and how surrounding yourself with people passionate about their pursuits can illuminate the richness of existence.

Heading to Sunny’s in a quaint seaside town in Taiwan, propelled by a mix of anticipation and a dash of recklessness, was one of the most spontaneous decisions I’ve ever made. This journey, initially intended as a short retreat to find some peace and perhaps get a bit of work done, evolved into something far more significant.

Sunny’s guesthouse was more than a cozy space; it was a crossroads of cultures, ideas, and stories. It felt like I was the character entering a magical environment in a novel. Within hours of my arrival, I was drawn into a gathering that felt like a microcosm of the world itself.

Here was Sunny, effortlessly weaving together a community of individuals whose lives were chapters of a larger narrative — her guesthouse has been a crossroads for astronomers, writers, Space X Engineers, and Tibetan monks — each with their unique stories and passions and crazy paths that had made a pitstop there.

Our conversations, ranging from philosophical musings by mountain streams to the sharing of dreams and aspirations, underscored a crucial lesson: life’s most meaningful encounters often stem from a willingness to engage with the world without preconceptions.

Sunny’s journey, with her unique upbringing (of having a German grandma who was also a Sufi mystic), her childhood explorations to all the islands and oceans of Asia, to the incredible educational programs she carried out all throughout Taiwan with her vast network makes any adjectives feel reductive. She truly embodied seizing the infinite possibilities that come from understanding oneself and continuously curating a life you genuinely love deeply.

Sunny’s approach to travel — and vacation — was also far from ordinary. She immerses herself in each destination, volunteering, connecting with locals, and diving deep into the culture. Her tales of living with locals across 25 countries, engaging in everything from NGO work to cultural exchanges, in a matter of days after hitting the ground, illuminated a way of exploration that’s all about authentic connection and understanding. Hearing the gratifying stories of how she curated her experiences made me rethink the whole nature of travelling.

It also just reminded me that people lie at the center of all incredible things in life. Because of the incredible humans she knew, connected with super deeply, and retained a connection with, she unlocked so many unmanufacturable experiences.

We went to a mountaintop museum owned by this incredible climber who had summited Everest twice, many of the world’s highest peaks. We had a 3-hour conversation over freshly grown coffee, hand-picked pomelos, and more wisdom than I could’ve asked for. We rode in the back of his truck exhilaratingly through the side of the mountains as the sun was setting — and I felt truly alive. Those are the types of experiences you can’t have when you stop at the surface level. When you don’t outpour love and connect with people deeply.

This journey with Sunny wasn’t just a detour; it transformed how I perceive life, connections, and my own quest for fulfillment. Witnessing Sunny’s resilience as she cared for her ill mother, coupled with her relentless optimism, taught me profound lessons about strength and grace. Our time together, filled with shared stories, meaningful conversations, and the birth of new friendships, deepened my belief in life’s serendipitous paths — those unexpected routes that reveal more about who we are and the vastness of the world around us.

The intangible effects of Minerva… again

Reflecting on how I’d ended up in this situation in the first place, I had three more realizations about Minerva. Firstly, embracing this adventure meant stepping slightly into the unknown, a realm I’d grown surprisingly comfortable with. Having already relocated to a completely new country, and navigating unfamiliar languages and cultures, this venture felt like a natural extension of my growing capacity to engage with the unfamiliar, and to find comfort in the discomfort of new experiences.

Secondly, the likelihood of encountering something as novel and transformative as this experience back in the familiar settings of home or my university in Toronto felt incredibly slim. Being in a new environment, the sheer novelty and unexpected nature of this journey took on a greater significance, amplifying the impact of every moment spent exploring, learning, and connecting.

And last, Minerva has a way of building the muscle of not just gathering knowledge, but to truly connect with those we meet, to find common ground swiftly and delve deeper. It’s about igniting a spark of inspiration and nurturing it into a flame that illuminates even the briefest of encounters. Throughout my travels, I’ve met hundreds of people — some just for a fleeting conversation, others for days filled with discovery. Each interaction has honed my appetite for vulnerability and the art of quickly forming deep, meaningful connections.

Meeting Sunny underscored a powerful lesson ingrained in me through my time at Minerva: the most impactful moments often stem from our courage to explore the unknown, equipped with nothing but an open heart and a curious mind. It was a vivid reminder that venturing into unfamiliar territory, ready to embrace whatever comes our way, is where true growth and understanding flourish.

Meeting the people you want to think like: Richness in impact

When I first stepped into Seabound’s headquarters, I was ready to learn about the journeys of two incredible Minerva alumni. What I got instead was a complete shift in how I see tackling global challenges. It was like seeing a mirror of the type of thinker I wanted to become.

Seabound (a deep-tech company with an innovation that captures 95% of a ship’s carbon emissions) out to be this incredible place where this critical, yet often overlooked, aspect of climate change was tackled better than any other company in the world.

The most surprising part? The founders didn’t come from a naval engineering background. Yet, here they were, diving headfirst into solving a significant environmental puzzle and rapidly progressing on solving it. Watching them break down this complex issue into something tractable, then actually coming up with a viable, scalable solution, really got me thinking about the power of looking at problems from different angles and just how far critically thinking and executing can take you.

Hearing Alisha & Roujia’s journey over the last few years, how incredibly hard they’ve worked at something so impactful, gave me perspective on the actual amount of dedication it takes to do big things. Their approach to working both smarter and harder, and being in the best spaces to learn and grow — backed by YCombinator and Tech Stars, it made sense why they Forbes had classified their work as some of the most impactful social entrepreneurship in Europe.

Witnessing Seabound’s journey, from ideation to implementation, underscored a critical lesson: impactful solutions often emerge from a confluence of curiosity, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and the courage to venture into uncharted territories. Their story is a vivid illustration of how adopting an open, inquisitive stance can lead to breakthroughs that address complex global challenges.

They didn’t see their lack of domain expertise from the get-go as a setback; instead, they saw it as a chance to challenge themselves and learn something new. This mindset, their problem-solving approach, and their knack for pulling together the right people have positioned them to make a real dent in one of the biggest issues facing our planet today.

Looking back on it, it’s clear to me now that transformative innovations don’t just come from acquiring knowledge in a traditional sense. They come from strategic thinking, a willingness to ask questions, and, perhaps most importantly, the deep belief that you can make a difference. Visiting Seabound, really proved to me the endless possibilities that come with approaching life ready to learn and explore.

What does it all amount to?

I don't think you can put a price tag on meeting, and deeply engaging with inspiration, that too that inspires in so many dimensions of life. It alters the way you view the world, what’s possible, and how you want to spend your little time on this earth.

There are probably hundreds of more stories I could tell, big and small, of strangers and friends, who have completely challenged my thinking and shown me different perspectives. All of which I can't begin to thank to the extent that they’ve impacted me.

But most of all, I’m thankful of the series of coincidences that threw me into the deep end of thinking differently, in an environment like Minerva. I’ve tasted the gratification of being surrounded by incredible humans and their incredible stories, and will hopefully be able to cultivate that in years to come.

For more articles written by Mishaal, visit her Medium page.

Quick Facts

Name
Country
Class
Major

Social Sciences & Business

Business & Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Computational Sciences & Social Sciences

Computer Science & Arts and Humanities

Business and Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Arts and Humanities

Business, Social Sciences

Business & Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences, Natural Sciences

Data Science, Statistics

Computational Sciences

Business

Computational Sciences, Data Science

Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Business, Natural Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Computational Sciences, Natural Sciences

Natural Sciences

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Science

Social Sciences, Business

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Science

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Science, Statistic Natural Sciences

Business & Social Sciences

Computational Science, Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Business

Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Arts and Humanities

Computational Science

Minor

Computational Science & Business

Economics

Social Sciences

Concentration

Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence & Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Designing Societies & New Ventures

Strategic Finance & Data Science and Statistics

Brand Management and Designing Societies

Data Science & Economics

Machine Learning

Cells, Organisms, Data Science, Statistics

Arts & Literature and Historical Forces

Artificial Intelligence & Computer Science

Cells and Organisms, Mind and Emotion

Economics, Physics

Managing Operational Complexity and Strategic Finance

Global Development Studies and Brain, Cognition, and Behavior

Scalable Growth, Designing Societies

Business

Drug Discovery Research, Designing and Implementing Policies

Historical Forces, Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Artificial Intelligence, Psychology

Designing Solutions, Data Science and Statistics

Data Science and Statistic, Theoretical Foundations of Natural Science

Strategic Finance, Politics, Government, and Society

Data Analysis, Cognition

Brand Management

Data Science and Statistics & Economics

Cognitive Science & Economics

Data Science and Statistics and Contemporary Knowledge Discovery

Internship
Higia Technologies
Project Development and Marketing Analyst Intern at VIVITA, a Mistletoe company
Business Development Intern, DoSomething.org
Business Analyst, Clean Energy Associates (CEA)

Conversation

This is the second part to a two-part series on the evolution of what fulfillment looks like to Mishaal, and how that was unexpectedly crafted through being at Minerva University. Read the first part, on how university generally defines meaning and purpose, and her Minerva experience.

Becoming a magnet for interesting people

Over time, I’ve noticed something fascinating about leading a weird life that’s filled with curiosity: you increasingly draw in experiences and people that reflect your openness and eagerness to explore.

There are many ways you get to a level of weirdness that makes this possible. One of the quickest shifts can be putting yourself in an environment that moulds you to become that.

In my case, being at a university that’s let me live in 6 different countries across continents meant that I wasn’t exactly seeking normalcy from the get-go, and have been filled to the brim with some unbelievable experiences, memories and adventures since.

Living this way, you find yourself gravitating towards a community of people who think “differently”. It’s not just about actively looking for interesting folks; it’s about a kind of magnetism that brings together individuals. These connections aren’t based on accomplishments or titles but on a shared desire to see the world through various lenses and understand it more deeply.

A regular Wednesday night in Taiwan, turns into an impromptu gathering at an ex-NASA engineer’s tea bar, serving gourmet ice cream and tea sourced from around the world. The room buzzes with conversations among social entrepreneurs discussing the future of foodtech in East Asia, adventurers who’ve spent months on high mountain tea farms, and someone is playing the guitar and talking about their new documentary.

This magnetism isn’t about bragging rights or building an eclectic network for the sake of it. It’s about the natural outcome of being part of a community where curiosity, rather than conformity, guides your interactions and experiences.

Questioning what’s valuable: Little stories from my journey

Serendipitous Encounters That Redefine Possibilities

Stepping out of the conventional bubble, this journey constantly immerses you in environments ripe for serendipitous encounters with individuals who are not just “cool” and “interesting”, but truly living life in a way most people couldn’t conceptualize.

These interactions led to a profound reevaluation of what success, fulfillment, and a meaningful life entail for me. It’s about figuring out which aspects of your personal Rubik’s cube matter most to you and exploring the diverse ways to engage with them.

I want to share three connections that stand out vividly from my journey (from the past year alone), though, in reality, there have been hundreds of people who’ve reshaped my views on life’s priorities, gratitude, and significance.

Coincidentally, all of these stories had an element of unexpectedness; yet they’re transformative moments of connection that broadened my horizon of what’s possible. But in all of them, I found an element of how they’d cultivated “richness” in a specific area of their lives.

Meeting the people you want to be like: Richness in systemic change

One encounter that genuinely shifted how I see the potential for change in our world was meeting Sonam Wangchuk. Maybe you know him as the inspiration behind Phunsukh Wangdu in 3 Idiots, but his real-life contributions go beyond the character. An engineer turned educational reformist in India, he’s been quietly revolutionizing the way we think about learning and environmental sustainability (regenerative growth).

His core philosophy — that every individual has the capacity to learn, provided the method aligns with their innate understanding — has led to the creation of an educational model that’s both inclusive and empowering. He founded a school (that prioritized admittance for students who had been deemed by failures of the conventional school system), offering them not just education but a chance to engage directly with real-world problems. It’s a place where learning actually goes hand in hand with doing, and students are given the tools to build, innovate, and lead, and actually do it so well.

Amongst so many incredible inventions, he engineered a low-tech, yet highly effective solution to prevent flash flooding caused by glacial runoff — an artificial iceberg. Designed to store winter meltwater that would otherwise go to waste, is not just a testament to his problem-solving acumen but also his commitment to replicable, sustainable solutions adaptable across different regions.

Meeting Sonam didn’t just change my perspective on education; it expanded my understanding of what it means to truly make an impact. His life’s work exemplifies how deep, systemic change can be achieved through a combination of vision, empathy, and innovation. And it’s something I will strive to embody for the remainder of my life.

The intangible effects of Minerva

This definitely wasn’t something I could have planned or even paid to make happen — it was one of those life-altering experiences that you stumble upon. It’s hard to articulate just how impactful it was to meet someone who not only sees the world in such a hopeful light but also actively works to mould it into that vision. Engaging with him, and absorbing his perspective on education and sustainability, was a feeling I can't really even describe.

What made this encounter so incredible to me wasn’t just the initial meeting at a climate change conference; it was the opportunity to continue that conversation, to keep in touch and learn from him beyond that day. This ongoing dialogue has been like living a dream I hadn’t fully articulated to myself — a dream about what’s possible when you meet someone whose actions and ideals can guide your own.

It also wasn’t about putting someone on a pedestal or just looking for a dose of inspiration. It was more grounded than that — it was seeing up close the impact his work has had on reshaping ideas around education and how we tackle environmental issues. The way he blends innovative thinking with a genuine care for the world has really opened my eyes, giving me a fresh perspective on what my own goals and ambitions could look like. It’s about realizing there’s a way to merge creativity with compassion in our pursuits.

Meeting the people you want to live like: Richness in meaningful connection
The view in front of us is one of the handful that have actually, as cheesy as it sounds, brought tears to my eyes.

Sometimes, you meet individuals who redefine your concept of living a fulfilled life. Sunny was one of those pivotal encounters for me, transforming my perception of what deep connections and meaningful conversations can bring into our lives, and how surrounding yourself with people passionate about their pursuits can illuminate the richness of existence.

Heading to Sunny’s in a quaint seaside town in Taiwan, propelled by a mix of anticipation and a dash of recklessness, was one of the most spontaneous decisions I’ve ever made. This journey, initially intended as a short retreat to find some peace and perhaps get a bit of work done, evolved into something far more significant.

Sunny’s guesthouse was more than a cozy space; it was a crossroads of cultures, ideas, and stories. It felt like I was the character entering a magical environment in a novel. Within hours of my arrival, I was drawn into a gathering that felt like a microcosm of the world itself.

Here was Sunny, effortlessly weaving together a community of individuals whose lives were chapters of a larger narrative — her guesthouse has been a crossroads for astronomers, writers, Space X Engineers, and Tibetan monks — each with their unique stories and passions and crazy paths that had made a pitstop there.

Our conversations, ranging from philosophical musings by mountain streams to the sharing of dreams and aspirations, underscored a crucial lesson: life’s most meaningful encounters often stem from a willingness to engage with the world without preconceptions.

Sunny’s journey, with her unique upbringing (of having a German grandma who was also a Sufi mystic), her childhood explorations to all the islands and oceans of Asia, to the incredible educational programs she carried out all throughout Taiwan with her vast network makes any adjectives feel reductive. She truly embodied seizing the infinite possibilities that come from understanding oneself and continuously curating a life you genuinely love deeply.

Sunny’s approach to travel — and vacation — was also far from ordinary. She immerses herself in each destination, volunteering, connecting with locals, and diving deep into the culture. Her tales of living with locals across 25 countries, engaging in everything from NGO work to cultural exchanges, in a matter of days after hitting the ground, illuminated a way of exploration that’s all about authentic connection and understanding. Hearing the gratifying stories of how she curated her experiences made me rethink the whole nature of travelling.

It also just reminded me that people lie at the center of all incredible things in life. Because of the incredible humans she knew, connected with super deeply, and retained a connection with, she unlocked so many unmanufacturable experiences.

We went to a mountaintop museum owned by this incredible climber who had summited Everest twice, many of the world’s highest peaks. We had a 3-hour conversation over freshly grown coffee, hand-picked pomelos, and more wisdom than I could’ve asked for. We rode in the back of his truck exhilaratingly through the side of the mountains as the sun was setting — and I felt truly alive. Those are the types of experiences you can’t have when you stop at the surface level. When you don’t outpour love and connect with people deeply.

This journey with Sunny wasn’t just a detour; it transformed how I perceive life, connections, and my own quest for fulfillment. Witnessing Sunny’s resilience as she cared for her ill mother, coupled with her relentless optimism, taught me profound lessons about strength and grace. Our time together, filled with shared stories, meaningful conversations, and the birth of new friendships, deepened my belief in life’s serendipitous paths — those unexpected routes that reveal more about who we are and the vastness of the world around us.

The intangible effects of Minerva… again

Reflecting on how I’d ended up in this situation in the first place, I had three more realizations about Minerva. Firstly, embracing this adventure meant stepping slightly into the unknown, a realm I’d grown surprisingly comfortable with. Having already relocated to a completely new country, and navigating unfamiliar languages and cultures, this venture felt like a natural extension of my growing capacity to engage with the unfamiliar, and to find comfort in the discomfort of new experiences.

Secondly, the likelihood of encountering something as novel and transformative as this experience back in the familiar settings of home or my university in Toronto felt incredibly slim. Being in a new environment, the sheer novelty and unexpected nature of this journey took on a greater significance, amplifying the impact of every moment spent exploring, learning, and connecting.

And last, Minerva has a way of building the muscle of not just gathering knowledge, but to truly connect with those we meet, to find common ground swiftly and delve deeper. It’s about igniting a spark of inspiration and nurturing it into a flame that illuminates even the briefest of encounters. Throughout my travels, I’ve met hundreds of people — some just for a fleeting conversation, others for days filled with discovery. Each interaction has honed my appetite for vulnerability and the art of quickly forming deep, meaningful connections.

Meeting Sunny underscored a powerful lesson ingrained in me through my time at Minerva: the most impactful moments often stem from our courage to explore the unknown, equipped with nothing but an open heart and a curious mind. It was a vivid reminder that venturing into unfamiliar territory, ready to embrace whatever comes our way, is where true growth and understanding flourish.

Meeting the people you want to think like: Richness in impact

When I first stepped into Seabound’s headquarters, I was ready to learn about the journeys of two incredible Minerva alumni. What I got instead was a complete shift in how I see tackling global challenges. It was like seeing a mirror of the type of thinker I wanted to become.

Seabound (a deep-tech company with an innovation that captures 95% of a ship’s carbon emissions) out to be this incredible place where this critical, yet often overlooked, aspect of climate change was tackled better than any other company in the world.

The most surprising part? The founders didn’t come from a naval engineering background. Yet, here they were, diving headfirst into solving a significant environmental puzzle and rapidly progressing on solving it. Watching them break down this complex issue into something tractable, then actually coming up with a viable, scalable solution, really got me thinking about the power of looking at problems from different angles and just how far critically thinking and executing can take you.

Hearing Alisha & Roujia’s journey over the last few years, how incredibly hard they’ve worked at something so impactful, gave me perspective on the actual amount of dedication it takes to do big things. Their approach to working both smarter and harder, and being in the best spaces to learn and grow — backed by YCombinator and Tech Stars, it made sense why they Forbes had classified their work as some of the most impactful social entrepreneurship in Europe.

Witnessing Seabound’s journey, from ideation to implementation, underscored a critical lesson: impactful solutions often emerge from a confluence of curiosity, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and the courage to venture into uncharted territories. Their story is a vivid illustration of how adopting an open, inquisitive stance can lead to breakthroughs that address complex global challenges.

They didn’t see their lack of domain expertise from the get-go as a setback; instead, they saw it as a chance to challenge themselves and learn something new. This mindset, their problem-solving approach, and their knack for pulling together the right people have positioned them to make a real dent in one of the biggest issues facing our planet today.

Looking back on it, it’s clear to me now that transformative innovations don’t just come from acquiring knowledge in a traditional sense. They come from strategic thinking, a willingness to ask questions, and, perhaps most importantly, the deep belief that you can make a difference. Visiting Seabound, really proved to me the endless possibilities that come with approaching life ready to learn and explore.

What does it all amount to?

I don't think you can put a price tag on meeting, and deeply engaging with inspiration, that too that inspires in so many dimensions of life. It alters the way you view the world, what’s possible, and how you want to spend your little time on this earth.

There are probably hundreds of more stories I could tell, big and small, of strangers and friends, who have completely challenged my thinking and shown me different perspectives. All of which I can't begin to thank to the extent that they’ve impacted me.

But most of all, I’m thankful of the series of coincidences that threw me into the deep end of thinking differently, in an environment like Minerva. I’ve tasted the gratification of being surrounded by incredible humans and their incredible stories, and will hopefully be able to cultivate that in years to come.

For more articles written by Mishaal, visit her Medium page.