Friday, June 27, 2008

justice, peace and princeton

I haven't been more compelled to blog while at Princeton than today. One, I've been swamped with so much work (they weren't joking when they said this fellowship was going to be intense, and for good reason), and two, I've been having trouble accessing wifi. But alas, the internet problem is fixed, and after watching "No End in Sight" and speaking with former Director of National Intelligence and Amb. Bob Hutchings, I've got the urge.

Aside from the amount of readings and stats and econ problem sets, I've had it easy. Princeton is like Pleasantville. The city is gorgeous as is the university. There's this sense of community, one of beauty, wealth and security. For example, I feel safe leaving my purse and laptop out when I go to the restroom. With this kind of fortune there's no need to steal. Or so I like to think. After all, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs sits on a multi-million dollar endowment. We've been so privileged as to have all expenses paid including airfare, living and food costs, books, trips to NY, Philly and DC AND we even get a stipend.

And it's funny to think how easily I can blinded by such wealth and security. I mean, I still can't get over the fact that our "Brown Bag Lunches" with guest lecturers are lavish and catered, and since I've been eating with a knife and fork. Lately, I've been thinking about a post-grad swanky loft and lifestyle in SoHo. And then I watch a film like "No End in Sight" and remember why I'm here, and perhaps more importantly, where I want to go. The Iraq war angers and frustrates me, and deeply saddens me when I think of my cousin and best friend from middle school, both of whom are enlisted in the army, along with hundreds and thousands of others. I think about our government, the media, and our many distorted ways of thought and policies that reproduce injustices. And then I think about my privileges, to be here and part of such a phenomenal opportunity, full of resources, and the endless possibilities to do good that lay ahead, and I am so thankful and want to be responsible for working towards a socially-just world. One that recognizes violence is not the answer. One that celebrates respect, difference and dialogue.

Yesterday we had a former JSI participant speak with us, Teddy Warria. He said, "We need to make this place safe for freedom. And we need to make this place safe for diversity." YES. Those were such powerful words. He also said, " When you blaze a trail, make sure you leave a path." And he meant that when you do something well, teach others so that they too can succeed. As an international student, he wrote a book called "New Horizons" as a manual for students in his homeland of Kenya to apply to American universities. I think that's an extremely important lesson in our foreign policy. We've been reading about development and foreign aid policies, and so often the mistake is in giving, practically dumping band-aid solutions rather than investing in sustainable development. The power of education.

Time for dinner! They're taking us out to dinner..Indian! naan and veggie masala. mm.

No comments: