Sunday, June 9, 2013

‘Ancestor in Training’

2013 Heller School Graduates Assemble
On May 19th I accomplished a goal that I was not aware that I had. The thought popped into my mind the moment my name was called and I walked across the stage to receive my Master of Arts Diploma in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. It was the culmination of 3 years (including the application process) of a goal that came about my second year of Peace Corps service in Morocco.  On graduation day I felt an enormous sense of pride to have made it. For me when I make goals, they seem very unreachable, initially at least. Perhaps this is why I am drawn to them. When I decided grad school was on my radar I did not really know if finishing a grad program was. Fear came up and had planted a real ugly seed that lowered my confidence. The seed grew into a hideous plant that often nagged me during my first year, which almost on several occasions led me to believe I would not make it through. During the beginning of our ceremony I realized this was true for all my colleagues and was beaming because I felt proud of us and myself. Our goals had to undergo change and adjust in order to be realized. This is a lesson I take looking ahead. I had naively anticipated my journey through grad school to be quite linear, albeit negatively, when in actuality the process was one of high ups and low downs and filled with every emotion imaginable. 

Our commencement speaker, Vartan Gregorian, president of the philanthropic Carnegie Corporation of New York, deemed us ‘ancestors in training.’ While some of his speech contained typical graduation elements, I was floored by two questions he asked, “What have you done to deserve your ancestors?” and “What will you do as ancestors of future generations?” I am still thinking about these questions and my new title as an ‘ancestor in training.’ I am now back in Somalia working under a new project and I can look back on the last 3 years and know that I have all the strength of my ancestors but in order to become an ancestor I have to adjust my consciousness. Many of my goals were not on the radars of my ancestors, protecting the environment to name one. I realize that I may not achieve these goals in my work or personal life but in pursing these goals (however bumpy the road is) and actively working towards them I will hopefully be able to deserve the title as ancestor when the time comes.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting perspective. Some people say that we carry our ancestor's unfinished business, and that we can complete what's been undone or unchanged in the pattern of family dynamics.