In the fall of 2009, while studying in Burkina Faso, I spent four days in Bolgatanga at a library promoting literacy in north-eastern Ghana. I spent the weekend classifying donated books, learning lessons on zero sum aid and growing a profound appreciation for walled-in latrines. On the drive back to Ouagadougou, offended by my own odor in the back seat of the van whose door no longer closed, it occurred to me that the events of the weekend had fundamentally reoriented my academic and personal objectives. In Burkina, I experienced the difference between studying a social issue and living through it, between a theoretical classroom discussion and a tangible experience of solidarity. Since then, I have tried, to varying degrees of success, to recreate that mindfulness and the unwavering purposefulness that came with it.
Education has helped me widen my professional ambitions. As an Arabic studies minor, I widened my scope of understanding. I remember tears of rage burning my cheeks as I read Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations and heralding Edward Said's Orientalism as the manual for post-colonial analysis. As I read more, I gained a more nuanced understanding of the deeply intertwined histories of the Eurocentric West and often mislabeled East. In college, I was able to sew together my French and Political Science majors with the thread of Arab-Islamic studies. Through Voltaire's Zadig and Montesquieu's Lettres Persanes, I revisited current stereotypes and prejudices in the context of 18th century French philosophy. As a representative of the United States, I hope to similarly dispel negative attitudes about American culture by emphasizing global stewardship, cultural sensitivity and diplomacy in my personal conduct.
freedom of information, any process that enables two parties to better understand each other, languages, the internet, foreign affairs, enriching conversation, sharing the human experience, ponyo
the quantum computer, empathy, compassion, dream interpretation, horoscopes, etymology, bit-coins, TOR, grammar, college radio, meme culture, travel, food, religion, riddles
drawing ink portraits of pets in Victorian costumes
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