Habari gani, ndugus y ndadas! Greetings from life outside of your parents grasp. I want to take this time tell of my experience as a college freshman and what I have learned of life outside of the watchful eye of the Community.
Getting away from home and starting my own life had been a goal of mine since I was ten years old. I wanted to travel abroad, be fluent in twenty different languages, be settled down by 25, have an advanced degree at 30, and be a world renowned brain surgeon by 37.
A stranger would laughed at the “silly dreams of a child”. Those who know me personally are probably shaking their heads and smirking. My love know that when I set goals, I never divert. Granted, since growing older, my goals have tamed a bit. Now I only want to be fluent in four other languages which I’ll need as a linguist, and I’m ok if not every single person in the world knows who I am.
Yet, going off to college I still had some centering to do. I was naive, malleable and blindly trusting that the school I chose had my best interest at heart.
In August, I was certain that the beginning of the rest of my life had begun. I was free of the my family’s rules, out of the reach of my community’s expectations, and the only person’s opinion that matter was my own. I spent the first few weeks on cloud nine. There was so much to learn. So many new things to experience and I wanted it all.
It wasn’t until the fifth week, mid-September, that the illusion began to fade. I was on my own on the top of a lonely mountain. A small itch in the back of my head developed, yet I ignored it. Whenever a car I was in would scoff about the Occupy movement; whenever people would ask for directions that avoided low income areas; whenever issues of races were downplayed or ignored, the itch would start. I would scratch around my dreads searching for the source but never being able to find it.
October came around but it did not feel like October. Maybe it was the lack of preparation for the Gateway Classic or no longer getting ready for winter Ma’at. Or seeing as dressing up for Halloween had always been a kick for me, being an “adult” meant I wasn’t allowed to go trick-or-treating until I had my own children. In any event, I was feeling the longing for something more. Something that all the new “best friends” and “important knowledge” was unable to fill.
It wasn’t until my hall got a widow that the smoke began to clear. The Adopt A Widow program was in addition to practical service hours (Practical Service was basically doing tasks that could had been a full time jobs for those in the area who were out of work, yet the school felt students attending a wealthy school needed lesson in humility). Mama or Mama Annebelle was like a match flame in a dark cave. She wasn’t able to illuminate everything but she shed light upon my situation. And that was–I hadn’t served anyone in need since August. The chill is one I hope never to feel again because the emptiness that followed was crushing.
November was welcomed. I began studying for my finals, attempting to rid the the dark thought of not practicing Kuumba out of my head. Reading through chapter summaries, looking over my notes-yet none of the words made sense to me. The classes I had worked so hard in, nothing actually stuck. I learned nothing in my “Core” classes. General Education classes had taught me one thing: To be grateful for junior and senior year. It was High school all over again.
In high school, even though my means changed, I always knew what my purpose for human interaction would be. My reason for continually interacting with others is to heal. Be it physical healing as a medical doctor, emotional healing as a psychiatrist, or now cultural healing as a linguist. I want to heal others. I was told in high school that I had to follow a specific path, made by others, in order to do that. In retrospect, my high school had had very little hand in preparing me to serve and heal those I encounter.
January of 2012 revealed to me that my current institution was going to have me following in that same pattern. A pattern that was drawn up by individuals who have never met me nor cared how their cookie-cutter ideals didn’t fit me. The administration wanted me to take classes on Theory and Intros to subjects my major would never go near. The whole idea of “well-rounded education” had been perverted to a money making scheme where students weren’t able to take classes that actually went towards their major until junior year. As a freshman I was told, “In order to be requirements for your major you MUST take these required ancillary courses.”
In second semester, I was fortunate to have one professor-my Mandarin Chinese professor- to be honest with me. He told me that my path in life could be walked by no one but me so why would I trust anyone but myself to chose the path I take? His wisdom opened my eyes a bit to the culture I had allowed myself to be sucked. I had given up my option to learn because someone decided that creativity and originality is for professors and professionals; that students were in school to copy, not invent themselves.
My second semester finals were a repeat of first semester, I learned very little, save Mandarin, I don’t even remember what I was supposed to take away from my other courses except that I was being prepared for a middle class life style. One that does not concern itself with the happening in other cultures or lifestyles. I refuse to be nurtured in an apathetic community.
So I left the school. No, I am not going to another “better” college this fall. I am going to work and take basic math and English to get more “Core” classes out of the way. I did not fail either. Some parents push their children to become doctors, lawyers, businessmen in order to make money in order to be happy to have shelter from all the hardships that can occur in this life. I disagree with those reasons. If one wishes to escape life’s hardships, then one should not be alive.
I chose to leave my prestigious school in favor of work and community college because on one hand, I can learn nothing for nine months at a much lower cost and most important, I’d rather take control of my education and not allow it to be ruined by schools whose standards are set to help themselves rather than invest in Community.
The goals I have set for myself and my future are unchanged. I will go to China by the time I finish undergrad and I will continue onto my master before I reach 30 years. But no matter where I attend, the school must reach my standards first. The knowledge I gain from schools will not interfere with the wisdom I have from living, and my values are non-negotiable. I’ve been down the rabbit hole, and I’ve found my way back.