Fordham GSAS: Grad. Life: May 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

“Time Goes By So Slowly for Those Who Wait”

Time is a funny thing. Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with time. Maybe that’s because it always seems to do the opposite of what I want it to do (goes quickly when I want it to go slowly or vice versa), only to change its mind midway through.

For example, I now feel that my two years here at Fordham went by in an instant. I still vividly remember orientation and my first weeks here. I still feel like all of those graduate school “firsts” happened at most a month or so ago. And yet, while I was going through it, I felt that it would never end. I was certain that the work would go on forever, the reading would take centuries, the writing would never get done, and I would never graduate. When I wanted time to go quickly, to get out of the pile of work I was buried in, it would just refuse to budge. And now that I’m sad to leave all my friends, it’s decided to speed up like crazy. But I guess that’s what I asked for, right? 

But enough of these metaphysical reflections. Really, what I want to tell you all in this, my last entry for this blog, is thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting, here or on Facebook,…or for thinking about commenting. Or for trying to comment and having technical difficulties (I heard about at least one instance of that). Thank you for allowing me to represent you and your graduate school life with my musings and questions. It has seriously been a great experience for me, and I hope it was fun and interesting for all of you on the other end of the screen/page/*your choice of metaphor here*.

I don’t know who will take over this blog next year, but I’m sure that, whoever it is, he or she will be wonderful. Because (s)he will be one of us. One of us strange people who choose more and more school. So I encourage all of you, whether you are graduating with me or not, to check back here sometime in late August or early September, and get to know the new GSAS blogger. I know I will. 

So, with graduation upon us, I wish all of you staying here at Fordham (or at other schools) good luck in the future. And a big CONGRATULATIONS to all of you getting those pieces of paper we all work so hard for. No, not money guys. Come on, this is grad. school. I mean diplomas!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fordham Gives Back (With the Help of BRAC)--Guest Post!

It's my pleasure to introduce the second guest post of this blog's history, which comes from a member of one of Fordham's newest initiatives: the Fordham-BRAC Task Force. I have seen these guys present twice now, and I can honestly say that they are an amazing group of people, and I am very excited to hear about their work in the future.

As members of the Fordham University community, students are always looking for ways to be actively engaged in the Jesuit tradition of service and outreach that serves as the backbone of this institution. So when GSAS recently launched a project to work with BRAC USA to create a public awareness campaign, several students immediately jumped to the task. What developed was a task force of ten members who are working to create a campaign that highlight’s BRAC’s commitment to creating better opportunities for others.

BRAC (first known as the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee) was created in 1972, after the end of Bangladesh’s War of Liberation. Originally meant to support the Bangladeshi population, BRAC has now expanded to over nine countries globally, while also supporting other nonprofit organizations around the world (which is why BRAC is no longer an acronym). BRAC’s work has been so widespread that the organization is currently the largest non-profit developmental organization in the world, with well over 100,000 employees. BRAC aims to empower the population of the locations they serve, so that those people are able to meet their full potential. By teaming up with BRAC, the Fordham Task Force hopes to bring awareness to the organization, specifically by creating a campaign focused on BRAC’s work in Tanzania. This awareness campaign is centered on the Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents Program (ELA), which aims to empower girls, aged 13-20, to make a difference in their own lives as well as in the lives of others. This summer, members of the team will be creating a mini-documentary that will highlight this ELA program in Tanzania, as well as show the similarities and differences between Tanzanian and American youth. The team will be collecting stories and information from adolescents in the United States while two task-force members will travel to Tanzania to get more information from the girls in that country.

Last Friday, the members of the BRAC taskforce were honored by GSAS for their work on the project at the annual Awards Ceremony. I urge you all to help me in supporting and congratulating my fellow members of the BRAC Task Force on their work:

Minhajul Meje (Task Force Coordinator) 
Urban Studies

Kathleen Adams (Team Liaison)         
Urban Studies

Kevin Chua

Meghan Froehner

Erika Harrington
Ethics and Society

Danielle Noumbouwo
Humanities and Sciences

Kimberly Ogonosky
Public Communications

Nathan Snyder

Gergana Tomova
Elections and Campaign Management

The final documentary will be screened on campus to different members of the Fordham community this coming fall. We invite you to learn more about BRAC online, and more about the BRAC ELA Program in Tanzania specifically. Be sure to watch for more updates from the Task Force in the upcoming future!

 Kirk Dobson is a Fordham GSAS student in the Political Science department and a BRAC Task Force Member.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Almost A Decade Later (And No, I’m Not Talking About How Long it Takes to Get a PhD!)

With everything going on in the outside world right now, a blog post about grad. life or academia seems almost silly to me.

I was in my freshman year of high school, and only about a week into the school year, when planes crashed into the World Trade Center. I was only 14 on September 11th, 2001. But I remember feeling so old. I had friends who saw the second tower fall from the Hoboken pier across the river. I didn’t run fast enough. I only saw the debris floating over from Manhattan. Now, when I’m about to graduate with an MA, the man responsible for orchestrating “9/11” has been killed. (He has also been buried most respectfully, following the rites and rituals of his own religion, which I personally think is a great step towards a more sympathetic political approach toward cultural and religious differences. And which I think hasn’t gotten enough coverage.)

Most of my friends, both from Fordham and beyond, are very globally conscious. You can see evidence of this through the way they interact with social media sites, and there has especially been a lot of thought-provoking discussion online since last night’s announcement. Facebook, the all-knowing thermometer of public sentiment for my generation and beyond, is telling me there are mixed feelings regarding Osama bin Laden’s death. It’s not that most Americans (and others) don’t feel at least somewhat relieved…at least I don’t think that’s it. It’s more that, as many of my educated Facebook friends point out, his death won’t bring back the lives that have already been lost. Should we be celebrating, or mourning? Should we be speculating how this will affect the 2012 presidential campaign or losing ourselves in memories of 2001, both pre- and post- the attacks?

I know that this isn’t simply a graduate student issue, but it’s something that I think we, as people who aspire to be spreaders of knowledge in the world, should think about. It's our responsibility in some way to at least place ourselves in relation to these kinds of historic events, isn't it? Perhaps what we should really be meditating on is the distinction between vengeance and justice, and what we can do to make sure that distinction is maintained in the future, even in our own daily lives.