By Raphaela Behounek.
Choosing to seriously study something that most other people only see as entertainment usually leads to the same old questions: What do you want to do afterwards? So, do you just read books and talk about it? Or, my personal favourite, so you’re becoming a teacher then? It’s never easy to explain to well-meaning grandparents why we choose to devote four or more years to Literature, Film, or Theatre Studies, especially when the big question of ‘after university’ is usually left unanswered. And even in my Masters, I still cannot give a simple answer to why I chose my field of study, because let’s face it – we won’t find the cure for cancer or the solution to world peace, as much as we want to.
What we can do, however, is to change how people see the world around them. Our work can be the shove that a girl needs to go into cancer research, because The Fault in Our Stars has touched her so deeply, and a night at the cinema or the theatre is often the much-needed escape from dire reality. Being blessed with a campus cinema, I could witness this relief first hand a few weeks ago. I was sitting in the almost sold-out screening of Moana, the newest Disney hit. Surrounded by around 100 adult university students, I could see everyone trying to hide their tears and sniffling. Yes, it was only an animated movie with children as the target group, but I doubt anybody in that room didn’t feel their eyes itching and their arms being overtaken by goose bumps.
Walking out of that room, while subtly checking whether I looked like a raccoon or not, and seeing how all these people were equally touched and happy, I knew why I am doing what I am doing. Maybe I won’t be the next Lin-Manuel Miranda or J.K. Rowling, and maybe I won’t make people ugly cry at a book or happy sniffle during an animated movie. But if we can make only one person want to change the world because they read the right book, or followed the right movie discussion – isn’t that exactly why we go through all of this?