Sometimes education is a blessing and a curse. In Lima, I admire los Cerros De Huaycán with mountains that surround the landscape. However, I cannot ignore hearing the man at the intersection catcalling the woman in the street in Spanish. In Paris, I marvel at le Champs-Élysées with its great diversity of high-end stores. But I cannot avoid the Algerian family of five asking for money in French, the young girl in her hijab with her forehead to the concrete, her arms outstretched with a cup seeking donations.
Last week I caught a mistake in one of the readings for my NS 3090: Global Health Case Studies class. The article was entitled “What Can Medical Anthropology Contribute to Global Health?” by James Pfieffer and Mark Nichter. It discussed how national health systems were underperforming because of a lack of infrastructure. Together, the authors hold two bachelor’s degrees, three master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. However, while discussing health challenges the authors grouped “Africa” in with “other resource poor countries.” Africa is a continent, not a country.
I interned at JPMorgan Chase the summer of my freshman year in NYC. Yet despite working with bond values, derivatives, financing and debt pricing, one of the most important lessons I took away from my time there was that certain things in this world are priceless. However, I do not believe students need a corporate internship to learn this lesson, it can be learned on the NYC subway. The J train runs between Jamaica Center in Queens and Wall Street in Manhattan and in between your starting point and your destination you meet an array of characters. The concrete jungle is home to the rich and powerful, but it is also home to the underestimated and the underserved.
As Cornellians we are called to highest level of intellectual introspection and reflection. One step towards understanding ourselves is realizing that the American society pushes us to establish our identity through “othering”: the act of labeling people as “others” different from ourselves. Our ontology is formed using an “us” versus “them” system. “We” are “us” because “they” are “them.” Through residential segregation we distanced ourselves. Our suburbs emerged through the creation of ghettos.
Last weekend, I attended the 2016 Black Biomedical Technical Association Conference entitled “Disparities in Access and Distribution of Healthcare.” The conference showcased phenomenal M.Ds, Ph.Ds, D.Os and public health leaders from across the country and united students from all across N.Y. state. During my time there I decided to listen in on a workshop called “Case Study” with John P. Mitchell, M.D., Arts ’69, one of the numerous speakers at the gathering. The talk was geared towards students on the medical track. However, halfway through the presentation the profile of a real anonymous student popped up. The Cornellian was an underclassman deciding on what he wanted to major in. I smiled as I saw among the top choices on the list were the words, “Africana Studies Major.” The panel of speakers then proceeded to assert that being a pre-medical student and being an Africana major is beneficial and looked favorably upon when applying to medical school.
Every winter, spring and summer break, Cornellians can be found around the world volunteering their time to communities abroad. Most students perform marvelous achievements, acts of good and return to campus refreshed to take on the next semester. Yet, at the moment of return, the coming home to Ithaca, we are forced to ask ourselves if our work was truly in the spirit of service and cross cultural exchange. This winter break my co-writer, a Cornell Traditions Fellow in the school of Hotel Administration, explored the complexity of cross-cultural volunteerism with the organization Unearth the World, a nonprofit that prides itself on its mission to provide both opportunities for service and authentic cultural immersion. In the spirit of service-based learning, we had been sent articles to prepare us for our excursions, ranging from country ‘quick facts’ to the importance of ethical photography.
On Hans Bethe House’s first floor lies a cardboard box requesting clothes to be sent to Syrian refugees. This drive to send clothes to refugees abroad works to forward the general “think global, act local” initiative. The question that we must ask is the following: After we have thought globally and acted locally, can we then call ourselves “global citizens?” According to scholar April Biccum, “The global citizen … is a subjectivity convinced of the need for development under free market terms … and is capable and willing to act as an agent of development.” My contention is with Biccum’s definition as it relates to a single word: subjectivity. The idea that Biccum puts forward is that a globally minded citizenry can be cultivated through a self-naturalization process in which one comes to understand that he is an agent who can change the reality for others around the world. My vision for true global citizenship involves making sure everyone’s voice and stories are heard.
On Oct. 22, The School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University in Bloomington hosted its second annual Moving the World Forward Conference as part of the Public Policy and International Affairs Program (PPIA). This past weekend, I was able to attend this conference. The convention brought together over 80 participants from across the nation for four days to learn about graduate school and inspire leadership in public service. In addition to the intellectual diversity provided by each student attendant dedicated to advancing the cause of justice and equality, the speaker lineup proved to be extraordinary. Ta-Nehisi Coates — 2015 MacArthur “Genius” Grant awardee and author of the book Between the World and Me — was one of the speakers whom I was able to converse with.
This weekend, the New York Economic Development Corporation and Cornell Tech launched the 2015 I Heart FinTech Conference at the NYU Skirball Center. Although we generally think about hackathons as events for hardcore computer science majors who never see the light of day, according to I Heart FinTech’s Participation Stats, aggregating data from the past three hackathons in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015, computer science majors only made up 34 percent of the participants. I contend that the remaining 66 percent are individuals who have skillsets applicable to solving everyday problems, people who are looking for the space to bring their talents to life. Last April, I attended Cornell Tech’s Health Hack, I was surprised to see a large number of medical, graduate and business school students at a hackathon. Based on I Heart FinTech’s Participation Stats, the 66 percent non-computer science majors range from liberal arts majors to engineers and everything in between.
In the last two months, Cornell students have begun signing housing contracts and leases for the following year. With the hopes of receiving the best location and the best rooms, we find ourselves scrambling to obtain the formal documents necessary to call this new abode “home.”
I can recount multiple stories of my housing experiences from freshman to junior year. In the interest of time, I will simply say that it has always been a bitter-sweet relationship. As a freshman, I successfully captured a spot on West Campus for sophomore year. However, by the time I signed the housing contract and blocked with the members on my floor, I realized that I had been placed in one of the smallest dorms in the University.