Responsibility vs. Blame

I had been hoping my next post would be while I sit under the hot African sun, in the comfort of my motherland but alas, this weekend’s snow had other plans for me as I unfortunately found out. Long story short… I went from being abandoned by airlines, to spending hours in the cold and on the phone with a countless number of agents, to watching helplessly as backup plan after backup plan crumbled before my eyes; robbing me of whatever love I used to have for the white stuff and leaving a wounded and guilt-ridden soul. So now as my holiday has been cut to just over 2 weeks in Zimbabwe, I am left wondering whether all that happened had a meaning. My enigma is how this incident has changed my character in ways I never thought possible. As Dwight L. Moody once said, “Character is who you are in the dark,” only that at times you don’t even need the dark to discover who you are as circumstances bring you to your knees and you have to choose to either be the person everyone knows or be the person you need to be to survive. Sometimes these are two different people in the same body and sometimes you discover you are the same person all-round , and well, sometimes you discover a whole new side to yourself when the instinct of self-preservation takes control. For me… I’m still trying to figure out in which category I fall. To explain: When my flight was cancelled, like anyone desperately wanting to go to a home he/she hasn’t seen in ages, I tried making alternate arrangements, which after hours of more planning, also crumbled to dust as neither bus nor train was leaving Boston till after my connection flight had departed. Left with nowhere else to turn, I turned to the airlines who I felt had a RESPONSIBILITY to solve this problem “they” had created for me. Within the first few minutes of talking to an attendant on the phone I realized that they did not claim RESPONSIBILITY for anything, much less the BLAME for it. With millions of stranded passengers on their hands, they obviously did not care too much about my need to get home. Feeling hurt and abandoned, I then surprised all around me, but mostly myself (the introvert)… I started shouting. It started off as a notion that crossed my mind as something I’ve always been told to do to get anything done and then it turned into a choice, one that I consciously justified and approved. And once I gave myself permission to be angry because I was “definitely not to blame for this”… my mind switched off, my heart started racing and my mouth stepped into action: voice rising, fighting my best not to insult, always making sure I don’t swear… I surely gave them a piece of my African mind. I had too many of these sort of conversations with different attendants and their supervisors for hours and hours. They basically went in this cycle… “Sir, there’s nothing we can do. Call the other airline, it’s their FAULT… I’m not calling anyone because you guys are enjoying juggling me around, YOU call them; sir you will have to pay to make this change… I’m not paying for anything because it’s not MY fault; I can’t do that sir… I want to speak to your supervisor; I understand your concern sir, let me work on it and call you back in a few hours.” Alternate flights were made and cancelled a number of times till we eventually settled for a new itinerary for Friday and thus my ordeal ended. Scarred but relieved to be going home at last (if all goes well) I walked away from this fiasco feeling more like I had lost so much more than I had gained… the victory that felt as depressing as defeat. If I could go back, I don’t know which part of this saga I could possibly change. At certain times during my endless calls with hapless attendants, I found myself stopping myself and apologizing for shouting at them; some seemed to genuinely want to help and some just seemed stressed from their long shifts. I cannot justify my shouting as right, as the weather is not the airlines fault, nor is it the attendant’s, and yet I cannot condemn it as being wrong because part of me feels I would have either been abandoned or made to pay extra if I hadn’t done it. Between the weather, myself, and the airlines, my soul is torn: according to human nature, someone is to blame for all that went wrong; according to philosophers, I should take responsibility for my misfortune, and by some, no one is to blame; yet my human nature feels wronged and seeks someone to point the finger at. And even in that am I justified in taking my anger out on someone else, even if it’s the only way to get them to help me? In all, I am neither satisfied nor am I justified. As someone who’s job is also to answers calls at work, I know what it’s like to be shouted at for things I cannot control and if I could apologize a million times to the people I shouted at, I would… yet within this feeling, I can’t help but wonder if I would be going home had I not done so. Thus my moral dilemma continues… but at least for now I’ll settle for this… Anger is an active choice, a vicious cycle that feeds on itself and one’s conscience but one that does not take control without express permission from one’s conscious and sober mind. I hope I don’t ever have to show that side of myself often in future and for now I’ll comfort myself with the words of Confucius, “Things that are done, it is needless to speak about; things that are past, it is needless to blame.”

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Sophomore Slump.

At last, my semester long hiatus from the wonderful world of blogging has ended. I owe my deepest gratitude to the lovely break of Thanksgiving for affording me this chance to breathe for my life had literally turned into a never-ending cycle of homework and exams. Its amazing how one thinks they have school all figured out after freshman year only to find sophomore year all too surprising and radically different. During my hiatus, I have had the privilege of conversing with a wide spectrum of individuals from friends and fellow students to professors, advisors and even the Assistant Dean of Engineering, with regards to how my sophomore year has been going.

For the most part, the most common theme in the advice they gave me was that it’s not easy, but then that’s what makes it all worth it. After all, nothing worthwhile ever comes easy in life. This was not the easiest of pills to swallow especially when one feels like they are faced with impending disaster in their next exam, and how that quickly correlates to “my life is doomed” thanks to that one grade, in one exam of one out of the 38 classes I need to graduate. Looking at it in such a context makes it seem not too bad, yet like some of my friends, I found myself contemplating the rest of my life based on that one grade and somehow, the future didn’t look so inspiring. Thus, I began sinking in the river that threatens to drown all of us at some point in our lives; the river of questions like, “Where is my life going?”, “What do I want for my life?” and “Can I make it there with the way things are going?” Again, the general consensus in the advice I got was that college sort of works in this way: you come in freshman year and you are either thrilled or scared about college; you probably are only taking intro classes which are quite familiar with the things you because you saw them back in high school, and you think to yourself “That’s not too bad. I can actually do this.” Then you go through the year, using your same habits and techniques of studying, exam taking and even last minute assignment completion; which works just fine and you make it through to sophomore year. (Even statistics say that more than 95% of students who enroll return for their second year) You steam roll your way into sophomore year, thinking it’s all the same, probably a little bit harder, maybe you decide to work on your time management, and maybe add a club or two to your schedule; you can do this, you’ve done it before. But pretty soon, you notice something’s different; you can’t finish that homework 5 minutes before class anymore, you read that textbook for 6 straight hours and stand up feeling as if you know less than what you did at the start of your reading and somehow, these exams are simply getting ridiculously hard all of a sudden. Then the questions begin to set in…”Is this what I really wanted?” “They never said anything about this on the glossy brochure,” “Do I want to do this for the rest of my life?” Some of us find answers to those questions right off the bat but some just can’t quite seem to get a grip on the difference between what our hearts want and what our transcript says we are headed for. Thus the vicious cycle begins, you want a break from it all, yet the professors don’t seem to have any idea what they are putting you through; you want time to think yet the exams keep coming up; you want time to consider yet the grades push up a harsh reality in your face. And the more you try to escape, the more you get confused, the lower your grades go and the more desperate you become.

But alas, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As the world continues to spin, all things eventually fall into their rightful place and slowly and surely, with our wriggling and frustrations, our laughs and confusion, we find ourselves drawn to something which is beyond ourselves. Despite all the trials that dreams bring to us, all the nights of wondering “Why?” and all the grades that seem to be against us, you find yourself waking up each day ready to try it again, give it one more shot. For some, it’s when they change paths that they find that perpetual peace amidst the storm and for some, they discover that they were in the right place all along. Nobody can tell you how to get there or when you will get there, only you can tell when you do get there. And then, only then, do you find peace with yourself and all the trials of your path can’t faze you anymore. You find strength to stand up after each fall, no matter how many times you fall. With your body screaming for rest and your mind desperate for a break, you find yourself still going, for you know what it is you seek and you see it as clear as day… and the storm shall soon end.

This, in short, is my version of the sophomore slump and how I’m recovering from it.

 

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Lessons on the Hill.

So it has taken me over three months to finally put pen to paper, and now that I’m doing so, I realize just how much I missed blogging. It is true that if one wishes to master any art or simply stay in shape, one should make practice one’s best friend. I would add that procrastination is the worst enemy of practice and thus, even though I can’t excuse my failure to put down some words for a while, I do feel there is some explanation to it; maybe it was even out of my control.

When the new semester had begun, I suddenly found myself caught offguard in many sectors I thought I had covered. I spent the whole summer trying to prepare myself mentally and strategically for the new semester (as trying to study over the summer had dismally failed) but from the first day, the flood gates just seemed to open. It’s like the Muhammad Ali vs. Jim Robinson fight (homework vs. Ngoni) and I would be Robinson. Why? We both spend months training for a big fight only to get knocked out in the first 2 minutes of the match. I would have thought that after a year on the Hill, that by now I would have gotten the hang of things, but oh well.

Thankfully though, what I have learned to do on the Hill is to learn quickly, get back up and make changes to avert future “knockouts” by the giant ogre called homework. So I sort of have a grip on things now; I spend a lot of time with my books but with friends like “procrastination” and “loosen up” – one can’t blame me for occasionally having my priorities upside down.

So this week, I had the privilege of listening to two brilliant speakers who left me both challenged and cut down to size. First was a talk about medical school by the Dean of Admissions at Duke University’s medical school, Dr. Brenda Armstrong. She gave what I would term a realistic med school 101 lecture (with reference to Duke’s medical school). Her advice was simple: brilliance has no single defined form (whether it be GPA or MCAT) but that you have to define it for yourself and be prepared to work your heart out to make your dreams come true. Being a med school hopeful myself, I was deeply touched and sobered up by her words: nothing in life is easy, especially med school, but if you want to do it, be prepared to fight and don’t give up – you just got to love doctors for their honesty!

The other talk that I attended was by the author and speaker Tim Wise, whose book titled “Between Barack and a hard place” drew me away from my homework mid-week to hear what he had to say. Rarely in my short time on this planet earth have I seen such an immaculate and thought provoking presentation about a topic which I admit to my shame that I know little about – racism. My lack of knowledge on this issue is mainly because of the fact that I grew up in a post-independence Zimbabwe which has a majority black populous and where, being part of the majority, I rarely ever got to experience it; as anything that happens is rarely ever attributed to racism. Thus, as in any society, it is hard for the majority to understand the hardships of the minority. Tim Wise discussed this problem, adding that even though blatant racism is no longer allowed, its roots and mentalities are still present all around, filtered into different colors on television, in jesting and even in children’s books, noticed mostly, if not only by those negatively affected by it. Someday I will go into a treatise about all that I learned and was made aware off during the talk, but what I will say was my most important “take home” was that being at an institution like Tufts, even though I may be studying engineering, I have a unique opportunity to dive into this and many other topics discussed in the School of Liberal Arts, which is right here on the Hill.

Thus, combining my experiences for the week past, I could sum up my “life lessons” as having been to:

  1. Open my eyes and make the most of what I have been given.
  2. Opening my eyes means doing some things I may not be comfortable with (stepping from engineering, whether it be into medical school or into liberal arts.)
  3. The key to succeeding in the first 2 lessons is to dare to be different and be courageous enough to try.

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Reflections… Lessons from 365 Days in America!

This week I had the delightful opportunity to welcome some of the members of the incoming Class of ’14 at International Orientation. I had an absolutely wonderful time with them and thought maybe I should share some of what I told them with the rest of the class. I landed in America on the 30th of August, 2009 and on the day that marked my first anniversary, I had the chance to share my views with the incoming internationals. Here’s my take on my first experiences abroad…

Unlike most people I know, coming to Tufts was probably one of the most terrifying endeavors I had ever taken in my life. Away in a foreign land, my first days on campus were spent cramming what seemed to be a million names while trying to navigate and embed a map of the school in my mind. A good number of hours were spent in conversations revolving around how “cool” my name sounds and where we all came from. I did my fair share of assigning the wrong names to people who reminded me of other people I had met. Thankfully I never ventured to use those names in conversation and could not help but blush to myself when I later figured out I had the wrong name in mind. This trick did not always work though and a number of times I had to bow down in embarrassment when I tried to introduce another friend to the person I was talking to only to reveal that I had no clue whatsoever who I was talking to. I learned my lesson: it’s less rude to ask someone to repeat their name than it is to be caught pretending to know them. I forgave myself; I wasn’t the only one who forgot names in the first week of college.

Then classes kicked in. I walked into Pearson 104, clutching only a pen and a writing pad. After the initial excitement of how nice the classroom was had faded, I found myself a seat somewhere in the middle of the room: not too close to the front in case the professor decides to pick on me on the first day, but  not too far in the back so as to still be able to hear him. There were only about four of us who came in early, probably fearing the embarrassment of being late on the first day and I wasn’t sure if university professors were allowed to beat students as a form of “discipline” as my high school teachers had so liberally been allowed to do. Soon the silence began to tug at my mind, adding guilt to my already awkward and uncomfortable body. What if I’m going to need help from these people with an assignment, I thought to myself? Or what if this person could be my undiscovered best friend in the making? I had to make friends as quickly as possible I resolved. I gathered up my courage and introduced myself to a girl who was sitting close to where I was. After a few minutes of small talk, I soon fell silent as a myriad of students poured into the classroom along with the professor. How disrespectful of students to show up after the professor, I said to myself. Soon the 200+ auditorium was almost full to capacity. I hadn’t expected to have such a large class and soon I began to feel like an insignificant other among hundreds; a tiny salmon, no different from the rest; just another number in the university’s database. The lecture commenced at exactly 8:30 with the professor introducing himself by his first name. That was the icing to my cake of confusion. From being a bright young spark at my high school, how was I ever going to raise my hand in the midst of this sea of faces? My accent sold me out as being someone who is not from New England and I wondered what would happen if I mispronounced a word? And what if I said something silly and everyone laughed at me? God forbid! Besides, how was I supposed to address my professor, a full grown adult by his first name? Back in Zimbabwe that would automatically warrant a good beating! I walked out of that classroom vowing to never say anything in that class.

As the semester progressed, I had my fair share of baffling incidents that stemmed from my fear of asking questions: from retrieving shrunken pieces of laundry, shrunk courtesy of the Maytag commercial dryers in my dorm; avoiding using the vending machines and the ice cream  machine in the dining hall because I had no idea how they work, to even almost failing a class thinking I was dumb, yet it was only a matter of being lost in translation between metric and imperial units of temperature, distance and weight. I even had a number of classes where there were only ten students sitting around a table and with nowhere to hide from the professor.

Today, I could easily claim that I had it all covered, but the truth is I was afraid and unsure. It felt like I was the only one sailing in my ocean of confusion. But what I can however stand up and testify to today is the fact that there is a light at the end of the tunnel; nobody knows everything and nobody is good at everything. Up to this day, I cannot address my professors by their first names, but I can approach them and ask whatever I need clarification on. I learned that one doesn’t need to have a million friends and one definitely does not need to have them all in the first week, the first month or the first year. All things come with time, even friends. A vital key to remember in college is that asking about something you don’t know can save you a lot of embarrassment in future. All things considered, one should try as much as one rationally can as experience also has its charms. After all, as some people once remarked, “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one,” and “Only those who make nothing… make no mistakes.” So forgive yourself!

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Reflections…21

Age has a way of making one look back. After all “life is best lived forward and understood backward”… Thus I am discovering the 21 secrets to life that i have learned thus far and here are 4 of them…

Friendship

There are people in this world I can depend on – they are called friends. Not only are they present in my joy, laughs, successes and triumphs; I can also depend on them in my trials, tribulations, sorrows and despair. They can be the shoulder when I need someone to lean on and they can be the brick walls that stop me when my passions blind me from truth and reason. They can be the stone I need to reach my dreams and they can be the “nudge” that pushes me off the edge when my fear holds me down. They can be the co-bearers of my burdens or the cold voice of sense when my doubts overtake me. And in all this, I have learned that friendship is a game best enjoyed when both sides play their part. As much as I need them, I also need to be a friend to them for this to last a lifetime. And by His grace, I continue to strive to be a better friend.

Failure and Success

Rightfully named “imposters” by Rudyard Kipling, I have learned that neither one nor the other is final. Both should be viewed in the light of rationality and that I should celebrate the triumphs and prepare for tomorrow and endure the defeats and learn from the past. With regards to success, it is the source of strength and the fountain of hope; and failure serves to keep me humble, remind me I’m only human and in all, complete me. Both are inevitable and neither lasts forever.

Family

The unrivalled jewel of my existence. They have built me up and set me on my path. Long before the world knew anything of my existence inside the womb, they loved me; when I was young and restless, they cared for me and as I grew older, they prepared me and finally released me. They may not always have been there to stop me from bruising, but they were always there to wipe away my tears; they may not known all that life is going to throw at me, but they taught all they could – as best as they could – and they taught me well. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Love

Some call it a mystery, some call it a drug; to all it is something different. I have seen it and smelt it, but most of all I have felt it – with all its beauty and scars. Today I stand a better person because I too have been swept away by this glorious mystery before. For all it is a tale, whether fairy or legend, for some it never seems to have a happy ending and for others it simply never ends… for me, I still hope. If I have been carried in its arms before, I can be carried once more. And thus I patiently await its tender embrace with open arms and expectant breath. Scars of the heart may never heal, but they do not infest… they only make me stronger.

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Invictus

Yesterday was the last of the three open houses hosted for admitted students. I was sad to see them end as they had given me three days of excitement at meeting future freshman, helping people find their way around campus (and of course a good excuse not to do my homework 🙂 . I remember talking to my friend Niki the other day and commenting how applying to college is a complicated love-hate affair. First, the students are the ones trying to convince the college why they should be admitted; students compose, write, draw and literally dance to impress. And then decisions are made, and then the whole scenario flips over – now it’s the university that is bending over backwards to woo the students. It’s the way of life I guess, sometimes you beg and sometimes you are begged. Speaking of which, these last few days have brought me face to face with something I usually tend to ignore, belittle or outright deny – TIME! Meeting so many bright and talented young individuals drove home the realization that I am indeed growing up. It seems like yesterday when I set foot on Walnut Hill – everything brown and blue, welcoming the Class of 2013. I have to say I enjoyed the attention and endearment that the whole school gave to us. We were like the little babies whom everyone wanted to see smiling (they still do) but now the focus has shifted to the next class… Oh well. So how would I describe my time at Tufts, or even more my time on earth?

To start off, life is indeed short and as Kierkegaard once said “Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward,” thus the benefit of age is the gift of hindsight. One thing I always find fascinating and amazing about this world is its immensity, vastness and diversity. On the wider scale, every living organism on this earth has its own unique experiences and perspectives. Just this Thursday, my English professor asked us to sit outside for half an hour and observe nature in honor of the Earth Day celebration. Initially skeptical of the idea of observing a single natural entity, concentrating on it and finally imagining myself as that object, I later found myself in awe and wonder at how enlightening such an exercise could be. As I lay on the President’s Lawn intently focusing on a lonely daisy that grew in the midst of all the green, I suddenly found my imagination kicking in. The years of science classes, like an engine coming to life began coloring my mind with how life could be like for that daisy. Did it think it was alone? Did it feel different from all the green grass around?  Wait a minute – “Do plants ‘think’?” I wondered. If they do (unknown to humans, maybe) what do they think about us? What does it feel like to be stuck in one place for what may seem like an eternity? How does it feel to absorb water from the ground and feel it rising inside the daisy’s stem? Oh!

I eventually spent almost 45 minutes lying there amazed by that daisy, but it didn’t end there. I began to wonder about everything else that exists, spread across the earth – beetles, trees, (squirrels J) –what about the wild animals – lions sleeping lazily under the orange African sun, antelope grazing the browned savannah grass while keeping their eyes open for the slightest sound of danger, crocodiles lying idly in the water holes, waiting for their next victims… Sounds a bit extreme I know.

But then my mind came closer to home: humans. I can remember numerous incidents and events in my life, which to me seemed like that is all the world has to offer, but then to know that during all that time I was growing up in Zimbabwe, those days when I hadn’t done my homework and didn’t feel like going to school, those days when I broke the neighbors window and dreaded my mom finding out – that in all those situations and more – there are more than 6 billion other lives on this earth who were also going through a multitude of different experiences: my roommate, Daniel was in Ghana, maybe at his boarding school chatting with his friends about how they had to study chemistry without any teachers; my friend Aeden, sitting in a classroom somewhere in Texas debating some new federal policy, or… I could go on all day – and to imagine that all this is just at one instant – what about for all the years I have been on this earth or for however old we believe the earth to be. It’s simply mind-boggling for me to even start trying to comprehend what sort of experiences we all share, what joys, despairs, tears, laughter, memories, regrets, hopes and dreams we all have just because of the events that took place in our lives. A lot of times I hear some of my friends complain about how they regret taking a certain class, joining a certain sport, moving to a certain area, and then I stop and try to think – because they had that experience, what sort of a person has it made them into? Assuming they had not gone through it, what sort of person would they be? I can think of many situations in my own life where I felt cheated, surprised, hurt, comforted, elated or downtrodden: The time I took an art class in my first year in high school which I eventually dropped, maybe that inspired my interest in scenery and landscape photography; or maybe the time I had to read Shakespeare’s Macbeth or Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge and how I hated them both but eventually found myself a fan of English theater, especially tragedy; or maybe the time I went for a church conference back home and complained about how the boarding school we were staying at had no water and how we had to sleep on dust-ridden floors – maybe that’s what helps me appreciate whatever I have, no matter how little; or maybe the time I refused to be a debate speaker, maybe that’s when I became so shy – either way, as many experiences as I have had during my time on earth, everyone else has probably had a million more, and those older have had billions more. But what I do appreciate most is that all these experiences have shaped us all, who we are, what we saw, what we missed, what we lost, what we discovered and what we denied.

To end, I borrow the words of the poet, Robert Frost: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”  Whatever we go through, whatever we learn, the world still revolves and thus we should always try to make the best of whatever time we have. In retrospect, after all my times of joy, sadness, smiles, heartaches, tears and shouts of joy here at Tufts – I am glad to be entering a new era and ushering in a new generation of students onto the Hill – and if I could start my first year all over again… I “would choose the same joy, the same sadness, each step of the way” (Elton John)… I would not change a thing :).

My parting word of advice for the Class of 2014: Welcome to Walnut Hill, make the most of it! And some wise words from William Ernest Henley:

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

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Why Tufts… more to life

This week has been another curve in my college learning experience. I have shed tears, broken my glasses, laughed out loud, and still stand up once more and keep smiling – and of course got new glasses. Last weekend I sat on my first panel at the Admitted Students Question and Answer session in the Admissions Office (my life revolves around this officeJ). During the session I was asked for probably the millionth time, “Why Tufts?” and again I found myself fumbling through a response. I can never quite seem to have the “right” answer to that question. The question itself is a legitimate one as I would also be curious why someone would leave their home and fly 9000 miles to a new land. For the next coming weeks I’m probably going to be asked that question a couple more times as I signed up for a number of Admitted Q&A’s and for the April Open House panels, so maybe it’s about time I truly answer it. As much as I love to say that I came here for the snow and the squirrels, (where else do you get both on a green campus studying engineering and talking about Nietzsche?J) there is more to it than this, as I am beginning to realize.

We all come to college with a whole range of interests, goals, plans and dreams, but along with this we also carry with as our family’s and community’s hopes and our culture’s expectations. For some these hopes and expectations (both the spoken and the implied ones) are a source of motivation and for some they are simply chains and bonds one needs to break as soon as possible. I believe that the answer lies in finding a balance between the two, the inner and the outer world – the engineer and the writer, the doctor and the artist. The journey to distinguish between where I belong and where I want to be, what I want versus what is required of me, and if possible, find the center line where I can be both began when I made up my mind which path I was going to set out on.

There comes a time in all our lives when we must all face “the man (/woman) in the mirror” and decide of if we like what we see and if we don’t like what we see, decide whether or not we are willing to change. And that is where the fundamental key to any experience begins, seeing something, making a choice and then making an active effort do something. For me, it happened when I was in 9th grade; the first time I heard these two statements: “Dare to be different” and “Learn, build and grow” (ironically I heard one from a TV commercial and the other from a South African boy band). From then on these two mottos began to define my life, the way I viewed what I had and what I wanted. As weird as it sounds, the prospect of death occupied my mind. Not in a depressed “I want to die” sort of way but more in a “If today was my last day and tomorrow was too late” sort of way. It’s true that when we look closely at our reflections in the “mirror”, we began to realize that there is more to this world than the infamous three – me, myself and I; we begin to reevaluate our priorities and try to make sense of life and place in the grand scheme of things.

I began to wonder about where I was going, to dream about what mark I want to leave on this world and what I want to be remembered for; to hope that there is more to life “than chasing every temporary high” (Stacie Orrico); want to be “more than just ok” (Switchfoot) and stop running in the rat race of life – born, raised and died.

I decided I didn’t want my friends to shy away at my funeral because they were afraid of being asked to speak about me when there had nothing to say about me. I began to make changes, inspired by the words of Theodore Roosevelt:

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

I decided that when I die, I want the engraving on my epitaph to say:

“Here lies a man. He crawled, he walked; he ran, he flew;

He fell, he rose; he cried, he laughed; he talked, he did;

He observed, he solved; he reflected, he planned;

He saw, he sought; he dreamt, he tried; he frowned, he smiled;

He lost, he conquered; he tore down, he created;

He hurt, he prayed; he despaired, he hoped;

He changed, he brought change; he trembled, he stood strong

But most of all,

He loved, he learned, he built and he grew.

And in all this… he lived.

And now where does Tufts fit into my dreams… the primary reason: active citizenship.  I want to explore the world, learn all I can, rub shoulders with people from all walks of life: engineers, lawyers, writers, scientists and artists alike. I want to share experiences with the loud, the humorous, the quiet, the thoughtful, the observant, the courageous and the kind. I want to laugh with the philosophers, drink coffee with the environmentalists argue with the economists, recite poems with the writers and build things with the engineers. I want to be an agent of change, lead by example and stand up for what I believe in. In short – I want to go above and beyond, to learn to do the ordinary, extraordinarily well and to leave a positive mark on the world. And for me… Tufts has this all to offer… and so much more.

I have tried my best to put into words why I chose Tufts, but a part of me believes I could never phrase what it is about Walnut Hill that drew me in and allows me to wake up every morning and smile. Maybe its really the squirrels, or the culture, or the people… I don’t know. For me it’s one of those things that you know but can’t explain. And sometimes “it’s the secret that keeps it alive” (Westlife) and the only way to know is by simply being on the Hill… J

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