October 16, 2014

Surprises come when you let your happiness be the reason you live.
(Forgive the writing – this is excitement & not craft)
I left the house today!
Technically, I left the house yesterday, but that was more in service of hunger than exploration.
I’ve been struggling with jet-lag; I can’t seem to get the hang of this, and so I have been sleeping all day and awake all night.
To combat that, I spent my sleepless night yesterday scouring the internet for amazing things to do.
I’ve got a poetry slam tomorrow and I get to sit in on a conversation with Ruth Bader Ginsberg on Sunday night.
But today? Today, I organised to go to The New School and watch “Citizen Koch”. Obviously, if you know me, you know I’m obsessed with politics,
and in particular, I’m obsessed with American Politics. Let’s blame it on The West Wing & move on.
Watching the screening of a controversial movie taking on the most politically powerful billionaires in the US seemed like the best way to spend my
Thursday evening. And it was being held at The New School, a university with an International Aid Master’s degree that I’ve been drooling over for about a year.
I was excited just to be there, to check out the place, even if it was only for one night.
And oh! What a night!
After waking up at 3pm (gah!) and completely losing track of time, getting on the wrong platform at the subway, fighting with my metro card, getting lost in the building,
I finally took my seat – late, loud & conspicuous, in the third row. A lady was talking about splitting into groups based on what degree we were interested in and I honestly didn’t know
what she was talking about. But within a few minutes, I figured out that this was an information session and the folder that I had been handed at the reception desk was for The Milano
School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy.
To say I was surprised is beyond an understatement. I had literally kept a tab open on my computer for the International Affairs Gradute Program (GPIA) for about 6 months and I had never had the
courage to do anything. All I could see was a list of reasons why I couldn’t do it and to have life literally drag me here without my consent was…. I was literally speechless. I don’t think I said a word the entire night!
As I made my way to the International Affairs corner of the room for a more detailed discussion with current students, alumni and the program directors, i saw a familiar face from my past. A friend of mine, Jacqui, who I had gone to high school with and whom I literally haven’t seen since 2002 popped out of nowhere! It was emotional, the way that these things are, and we said everything without saying anything. Sometimes, all you need to do is hug someone, and 12 years slips away into irrelevance. Sometimes, love transcends time. I got my friend back in that hug. For that alone, the night was worth it.
It turns out that Jacqui is an alumnus of the GPIA, now works at the UN and is also doing a PhD in IA at the New School. She talked about her experience while studying, about the skills she learnt, about her relationship with the faculty, the students, the school, the city. And another alumnus from Canada also spoke, and their passion, their allegiance to the school, well, it was inspiring. The faculty heads also spoke and outlined the program and I guess I could go through some of what they said, but what I got out of it wasn’t information, it was a sense of community, a sense that these were people who loved what they were doing, still believed there is value in working to change the world. A somewhat cynical gentleman asked a question: many people have given up on the idea that the world can be changed & that they can make any kind of individual difference. How does The New School inspire people to believe in change? I call it cynicism now, because I am writing this after the fact & I have been inspired, but at the time, I was thinking the same thing. There is so much going on in the world and so little will to see change that I have been discouraged into inaction.
But in the two hours that I found myself surrounded by the passionate, inspired teachers and students of TNS, I have to tell you, my oft suppressed optimism broke through and I am sunny all over!
I want to be surrounded by a community of believers, a community of people whose lives mirror their passion. I want to be a world changer. And in the absence of that, I want to spend my life trying.
I skipped Citizen Koch & went to dinner with Jacqui afterward. We talked about things. So many things.
I’ve got a meeting with faculty members to talk about my joining this world.
I’m going to sit in on a few classes while I’m here, I’m going to throw caution to the wind, I’m going to imagine I live in a world where my happiness is possible, I’m going to forget to be afraid and I’m going to explore this new thing.
I came to New York as an open book, ready to have life scribble inspiration all over me.
I’m going to be a wonderful story by the end of this.

There. I said it. Your turn.

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