Last Thursday was Veteran's Day, a day that truly is worthy of reflecting on the efforts that several have put forth the well-being of this nation. Since my professors and supervisors informed me that we would be observing the holiday, I had the whole day to myself! I started celebrating Wednesday evening with a girls' outing to see Tyler Perry's new movie: For Colored Girls. It was a powerful, sobering film that reminded me that despite that things haven't been going my way lately, it could always be so much worse.
I spent Thursday in retail therapy at Downtown Crossing, one of Boston's hidden gems. I spent some quality time (and money) in Macy's and DSW, and enjoyed actually having a day completely to myself. http://www.downtowncrossing.org/
My Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were very eventful days but somehow, they had the feeling of a "holiday." I spent Friday at my Research Assistant job from 10 am until 3:30 pm. I, then, had Biostatistics lab from 3:30 - 5:30 pm. (These are two stories for another time)...I went to a friend's place on Friday evening and enjoyed an early Thanksgiving meal with 15 friends in the area.
On Saturday, I spent all day at the Harvard Graduate Council's First Annual Student Leadership Conference. It was a great event that brought student leaders from all 12 of Harvard's graduate schools together in one place. I listened to Marshall Ganz talk about using "public narrative" as an effective form of motivating action; I engaged in a vibrant discussion about social justice and inspiring others to commit to a cause; and I really had the opportunity to reflect on the bigger picture behind why I am interested in global health. http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2010/11/15/graduate--students-conference-leadership/
Perhaps the highlight of my weekend was this Sunday. After spending several hours cleaning and doing laundry, I decided to make the trek to Cambridge once more this weekend to here the infamous Rachel Maddow speak. She was selected as the Theodore H.White lecturer to talk about the intersection between press and politics. Rachel was an excellent speaker; she was intelligent, witty, and very funny. And in everything she said, there was clearly a thoughtful argument to accompany it. She articulated that she believed that the politics doesn't hurt the press but that the press can hurt politics and that the changing from "old media" to "new media" isn't bad, it's just new. She identified that she is not an activist, nor would she ever run for office; she stopped being an active player in politics when she entered the realm of media.
What inspired me the most was realizing that at some point, Rachel was in the same place I am now. Mind you, she was a Rhodes Scholar and I was only a finalist; she went to Oxford and I'm at Harvard; she's clearly "made it" and I'm trying to "make it out alive"...but details aside - she started small just like everyone else. She had committed her life to activism, and she ended up going a different route. She doesn't posit whether one is better than the other; she just acknowledges that they are different.
Timothy McCarthy (my professor and a panelist on the social justice panel) made a statement on Saturday that really struck a chord. He said that we are privileged to have the choices we have; we are privileged to experience "burnout" and to choose a different path because not everyone has that luxury. So to any of you considering Harvard, considering future options, trying to decide "what's next" but feeling like you're just not there yet, remember, we are privileged!!
Until Next Time...