Well we’ve done it, we’ve made it through one week of classes for the semester. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like ages since getting back to Wes. That has a lot to do with me being abroad last semester, so everything feels strange and new and overwhelming. But being away, and now back again, has made me think a lot about my time here at Wes and what I’m doing with it. I figure now is a good a time as any to think about my goals, and the goals of others, for the semester. So without further ado, some thoughts from the Wesleyan community:
To the Class of 2017:
Despite the fact that many of you were AP superstars, SAT mavens and in the top 10% of your high school classes, I have words of inspiration for you. I have noticed that new college students question whether they are capable of handling the work at Wesleyan and contributing to a community that is abound with people who were “the man” in their respective high schools. There are people who believe that such doubts are well founded and that Wesleyan will kick your ass.
People, it’s cold outside. Points are running low. Deadlines are getting way too close for comfort. This time of the semester sucks, basically.
You can do it! I went to the library this morning at the time that I usually fall asleep (well, I have sleeping problems) and I was so IMPRESSED by everyone there. Messy hair, dead eyes, dirty faces… ok, you guys don’t look THAT bad, but still. Nobody looked happy to be there and as I questioned what the hell I was doing up so early in the library it really struck me that finals week brings out the worst and best in everyone. The worst is pretty easy to see, but the best is not always so obvious.
As we exhaust our bodies and minds it’s worth remembering that we are putting ourselves through some pretty unpleasant days and nights and even despite the failure to meet some of our bodies’ basic needs our minds are putting on black latex, badass sunglasses, and an Angelina Jolie pout and they’re kicking ass!! Paper after paper, test after test, we’re getting it done and doing it, doing it, doing it well. Give yourselves some props for the craziness that you’re making it through and remember that you wouldn’t know all the amazing things you’re capable of without somebody pushing you to the limit.
I did a quick Google search for inspirational quotes and here’s what I got. I know there are better ones out there but my brain is fried (I can’t even remember what I said 3 seconds ago) :
Kennedy Odede ’12 comes from a background most American college kids can only joke about uncomfortably in an effort to fathom it, working odd jobs to feed himself and his younger siblings in one of Africa’s largest slums even while pursuing an education:
While many students were startled by the violent altercation on Fountain Avenue last semester, public violence is nothing new for Kennedy Odede ’12. Hailing from the Kenyan slum of Kibera, Odede comes from a place where there are no police, a place where violence is the law.
“In Kibera, if you are caught stealing, they will put a tire on you, pour kerosene on the tire and then burn you alive,” Odede said. “I’ve seen that happen many times. I’m used to it.”
…“In the slum, even if you are a bright kid in high school, there is no way out,” he said. “You will be doing unskilled jobs from day to day for the rest of your life. That is what most of my friends are doing, and that is what my brothers want to do. There is no hope of a better life.”
In large part, Odede became enamored with the words of Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey, who argued that those of African ancestry should reclaim Africa from its European colonizers, a goal that could be worked toward, Garvey said, through an attitude of self-reliance.
“I was inferior because of poverty,” Odede said. “Garvey used to talk about how all people are equal and that changed my life.”
Read the first part of his amazing story in the Argus: From carrying rocks to carrying books: one student’s journey
By now you’ve all probably settled into some kind of summer routine (and here’s to the hope that said routine is every bit as productive/ rewarding/ debauched as you intend it to be).
But here is yet another flashback from MSNBC’s Nightly News to the graduation season of late May. This video montage dedicated to the class of 2008 shows bits from the commencement ceremonies of various schools around the country, but clearly most notable is the clip of Wesleyan’s Taiko drummers and Barack Obama’s address at 1:17:
Other commencement speakers featured in the segment (full addresses of several can be browsed on the site) are such luminaries as Al Gore at Carnegie Mellon, J.K. Rowling at Harvard, Angela Lansbury at UMiami… and George W. Bush at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
MSNBC.com: To The Class of 2008…
Mufaro Dube ’08 is profiled in the Hartford Courant, for his story “of triumph over circumstance” which brought him from the economic turmoil of President Robert Mugabe’s dictatorial regime in Zimbabwe to graduating from Wesleyan University, against great odds. Dube majored in Math and Economics, is headed to a job on Wall Street, and has some interesting perspective on our political whining:
He is a thrilled Barack Obama is delivering today’s commencement address; Dube can parse the debate performance of the presumed Democratic nominee for president as enthusiastically as he can talk about the finer points of stocks and hybrid bonds. He sees some irony in Americans who complain their political process is broken. For his entire 22 years, Dube’s country has known one president: Mugabe.
Hartford Courant: Out of Zimbabwe: Bet on Ambition Pays
Here are four songs to get you through the next week. I have been listening to these every morning to get pumped. And man, I am so PUMPED!! It’s so EXTREME!!! I’m so fucking ENERGIZED that it’s 5:30am and I am watching my friend play Final Fantasy XII!!!!
I’m not even going to tell you their names. It’s a guessing game. You like games, yes? Especially ludicrously easy ones? Unlike your life right now? Fine, okay, the song titles are in the file names, I don’t even care.
Man, fuck finals.