Thursday, July 22, 2010

With every end, a beginning.

To say that a chapter of my life has ended would probably be a bit of an understatement. The past four years of my life and what happened during them... the good, the bad, the ugly... will leave a permanent mark on me for my whole life. The friends I made, the lessons I learned, not to mention the diploma I earned have all, and will all, continue to shape me. It is now starting to hit me how much I will deeply miss DC, the experiences and most of all the people. So for all of my GW friends and, of course, everyone else I have something that hopefully will resonate at some level with you. Unbeknownst to anyone I wrote and auditioned to speak at graduation. Both obviously and unfortunately I was not selected. I would have like nothing more than to have been able to share this message with all of you at our graduation, unfortunately, fate had another plan. I have decided to post it here so that anyone who chooses to, can read it. Again, my apologies if the grammar and what not is a bit off... it was meant to be read aloud and I think if you do this you will be able to follow the flow of it a bit better.

First, remembering that have our whole lives ahead of us to be GW
graduates and remembering we have only one chance to be a son, a
daughter, a brother, a sister, a granddaughter or a grandson, let us
take this opportunity to stand and thank our families and friends.
Thank you to our mothers and fathers, our stempmoms and step dads, our
grandmas and grandpas, our brothers and sister, our aunts and uncles
and everyone else who has stood by us and supported us with love and
commitment in our pursuit of academic excellence. Thank you!

To our parents: relax. Its over. We’ve completed all our requirements.
Used all of our Gworld money. Finished all of our papers. And even
woke up on time for all of our final exams. Now, we just need to pay
off our student loans.. Ok, so maybe don’t relax just quite yet.

To our brothers and sisters: Oh ye of little faith!

And to everyone else: Thanks for calming down our parents over the
past four years.

I have spent the past four years as a student of International Affairs
learning about the effects of the colonial legacy. From the favellas
of Brazil, the townships of South Africa, the outcast of India, the
genocides of entire peoples, the imprisonment and slavery, the
pillaging of resources and the poverty, hunger, and suffering of all
those worldwide.

To all of these people, in all of these places, and more, the word
COLONIAL is often partnered with a tear in their eyes, a scarring
memory, a culture lost, a language forgotten, a people displaced and a
country in ruin.

To these people, the COLONIALS came in with little or no compassion
for their way of life. They used, converted, enslaved, raped, and
tortured them into a life of submission-- if they were lucky. For
others, the COLONIALS could only see them as savages worthy of nothing
short of death.

WE are COLONIALS. Proud to wear this word across our chest, not
thinking once, of the weight that this word carries. We are not,
however, THOSE, COLONIALS. We are a group of people who are committed
to using our talents and changing the world.

We have a very difficult task in carrying this name, out into our broken world.

And today I charge each and everyone of us with the task of changing
this legacy. Taking the word COLONIAL and removing the shackles of its
troubled past and freeing it.

We have already started this new legacy: with our hard work and
studying, our study abroad experiences, our alternative spring break
trips, our bake sales, our student organizations, and our commitment
to service locally, nationally, and internationally.

Wherever you go from here: to a familiar place with familiar cooking,
to a new career in a new place, a new school for continued studies, a
time of travel or a time of service, go forward with a commitment to
changing the world-- for good.

For good in two very important ways: first, for the betterment of
society and the world and second, in a way in which we could never
turn back to a past time.

I stand here as proof that your GPA is not your most important asset
in life. With purpose and determination and with the skills and
talents that we have acquired and perfected during our time here at GW
we CAN change our world, for good.

Congratulations to everyone! We’ve don’t it! The easy part is over,
it’s done. Now, now, we answer our calls, each of us individually, yet
each of us together, collectively, bound by our time here at GW and
forever in our mission to create a new COLONIAL legacy. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Lesson in Humility

1.The term yoga comes from a Sanskrit word which means yoke or union. Traditionally,
yoga is a method joining the individual self with the Divine, Universal Spirit, or
Cosmic Consciousness. Physical and mental exercises are designed to help achieve
this goal, also called self-transcendence or enlightenment. On the physical level,
yoga postures, called asanas, are designed to tone, strengthen, and align the body.
These postures are performed to make the spine supple and healthy and to promote
blood flow to all the organs, glands, and tissues, keeping all the bodily systems
healthy. On the mental level, yoga uses breathing techniques (pranayama) and
meditation (dyana) to quiet, clarify, and discipline the mind. However, experts
are quick to point out that yoga is not a religion, but a way of living with
health and peace of mind as its aims.
2.An exercise movement that has gained in popularity in the United States over the
course of the new millennium. It involves group classes often situated in heated rooms

Yoga, as stated above... is an ancient way of life (connected to the this blog because of its birthplace in India) best known in our society for its physical manifestation as a type of group exercise. With it has arose a tight-knit community of active and devoted yoga yogis. I have never been one of these yoga yogis and, in fact, I have been a skeptic of these yoga doers. Jess, a long time college friend
and subsequently one of my roommates of the past two months has been badgering me for
the past eight weeks to go to a yoga class with her.


For all of those eight weeks I have told Jess that I believed yoga would barely
challenge me and that I could easily make it trough one session without having to
a break or stop doing the movements at any point. To make a long story short... not
only was I wrong, after an hour and a half of sweaty suffering I was, dead wrong.
Having played competitive soccer for over seven years and being coached by a former
US men's national team player and a sly Russian who played in Europe a 127 lb. yoga
instructor had me on my knees holding my hands in prayer in front of my chest
(ironically enough one of the few times during the class I was doing the correct

Two very important things to know before going to yoga... drink water... lots and
lots of water and DO NOT EAT within two hours of the classes start.

To discuss the first of the two points: The average human body has 37 liters of water
within it. At the end of ninety minutes 34.72 of those liters formed a moat around my
mat area, darkened my clothes color by three shades and ineffectively cooled my skin from the stagnant, 93 degree, dry heated room. My fingers were wrinkled from contact with the drenched towel and mat beneath me making me feel like Benjamin Button at age 7.

Second... using the restroom in a yoga studio gives off a very familiar sense: the smell of a filled port-a-potty sitting outside all summer at a construction site in Dubai.

Needless to say I struggled through (actively engaging for roughly and hour and then
spending the last thirty minutes of the class in the child's pose-- for those unfamiliar its exactly as you would imagine) and I realized that I had been humbled.

I am excited to move forward from this experience with a renewed commitment to never judge something without having attempted it first myself. In the next year there will be many situations that I am sure I will be quick to come to a conclusion and this episode, fittingly occurring on my final day in DC, will help to ground me again in the importance of experience and openness.

For those of you who have not tried yoga... I strongly encourage you to try although I would also strongly recommend first trying a beginners class).

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blog Title

I think the largest stumbling block for me getting my blog up and running was the tricky task of selecting a title. Although my father gave me several good suggestions, I have decided to go with the words of wisdom of another Scotsman... one who would be forever immortalized for the most simple four word question, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" The title of this blog, 'Going anywhere, provided it's forward', is a fitting title due to the fact that it is both acutely definite while at the same time exponentially ambiguous. What is not ambiguous, however, is that I will be spending the next year of my life in Kerala, India with the Young Adult Volunteer program (YAV). To update everyone on my progress on all pre-trip related activities: I have my visa stamp in my passport (and more importantly I have not lost my passport again), I have had so many needle jags that I could be nominated for best supporting actor in Trainspotting, and finally I have picked up my anti-diarrheal medication (which I'm sure will be a supporting actor in this blog in the coming year). Apart from that I am busy fundraising to reach my goal. I would like to thank all who have already donated and to remind them to be looking for a thank-you letter in the mail. I have decided that to get into the swing of blogging I will use the next month when I am still in the United States to practice my blogging skills and to bring all of the reader(s) (I say that because I know if no one else reads this my mom will-- and on a side note mom... please don't correct my grammatical and spelling mistakes, thanks, love you) up to speed on Kerala and India in general. Please feel free to leave comments! I encourage everyone to keep in touch.. leave me a comment or shoot me an email. I will try my best to keep this updated so that I can keep everyone in the loop. Thank you again to everyone who has already supported me. Whether it be through finances, thoughts, prayers, or just kind words and well wishes, every little bit helps and I am so thankful to have a wonderful family and a wonderful group of friends who are so very supporting and very loving. If I start to ramble in this or future posts please let me know. For those of you in the NPC community and the Oakland Avenue community you will realize that this is hereditary so blame my father.