And here we are: at the end. With most of my work behind me, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the year I have had. My semester ends on May 2nd (and conveniently I will be missing VP Biden’s speech at Lafayette). This past academic year I have been to nine countries, if you count the U.S. – and I do [Tanzania, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands, the Hague, Belgium and the United States]. I have skinned a goat, I have been branded by the Maasai, I met Former President Bill Clinton, I learned Swahili, I sat 10 feet away from Radovan Karadzic, and I was stung by a bee for the first time.
I set out at the beginning of this year to find perspective, clarity and direction. I created a curriculum for myself that would allow me to see and experience two sides of international affairs. I first wanted to see what happens on the ground, in one of the poorest countries in the world, and then second, to see how policy makers in relevant organizations influence those countries. And in that task, I think I was successful. The other part of the curriculum was to help me make decisions about my own life. I wanted to know whether I belonged on the ground or in the upper echelons of the organizations themselves. And in that task…well, that task is still underway.
So far I haven’t been able to make a decision. I have on my desk guides to the GRE, GMAT and LSAT exams and next to them is my Maasai jewelry given to me by my family in Lake Natron. Therefore, despite all of my grand plans, I will continue to stumble blindly into the future on whatever path seems right at the time.
I have been deeply moved by the people I have met and the things I have seen. I have had experiences in one year that most people don’t have in a lifetime. I have breathed in the dusty, thick air of Africa, walked her red dirt roads and lived without technology, electricity, and indoor plumbing. Some people say that the dirt in Africa is red because of all the blood that has been spilled there. And yet the entire world continues to ignore a continent with over one billion people, many of whom struggle with disease, hunger, and violence everyday. At the ICC, a judge told us that people often criticize the court for “picking” on Africa, since most of their cases are prosecuting
African warlords. She responded by saying that she believes that Africa deserves what the ICC can provide: expensive courts, with highly trained lawyers, due process, and no corruption. She has a good argument: that the ICC tries to tighten the gap between the first and third worlds, which is a challenge that most organizations have not yet figured out how to accomplish.
So then my question to myself is what will I do to bring the global north and the global south closer together? The answer is I don’t know. And I don’t think any of us know. I do know that when the aliens arrive I hope that we haven’t driven ourselves into extinction yet. I suppose that’s my goal: prepare Team Earth for extra-terrestrial arrival. I plan on writing a book about that- keep an eye out for it; it’s gonna be huge.
On Thursday I will be back at Lafayette to celebrate the end of the most epic year of my life. Dear Lafayette community, don’t let me become that girl who begins every sentence with “when I was abroad..” ok? Thanks. Thanks for everything. Kwa heri.