GHAZI | When Grief Knocks

On the Persian holiday, I needed family, I needed jubilation, I needed to declare an arbitrary beginning in a way that only declaring a new year can. If I didn’t put in the effort to celebrate Nowruz, no one would.

GHAZI | Silence Is Participation Too

Whoever first said to think before you speak evidently never took a course that graded their participation. Before I came to Cornell, I dreamed of college classrooms with endless conversation. Now, in my final semester, my learning usually happens when I’m silent — truncated by empty comments born from the hollow frames of other empty comments. 

A word salad of unprofound buzzwords emerges when an unprovocative reading meets a room of seasoned skimmers who yearn for an A. Participation may count for 25 percent or more of a final grade, leading to a performance to cushion it. Participation for the sake of participation wastes tuition dollars, time and a professor’s expertise. We must swap our limited definition of participation for one that rewards silence, encourages listening and steers us to material that cues discussion on subjects worthy of contention.

GHAZI | Cornellians Demand More Than Being Firsts, Who Our Mentors Are Shows

When I started an editorial position at The Cornell Daily Sun, a friend said, “Paris, you might be the first Iranian associate editor of the newspaper.” Minutes before his congratulations, I opened my third email of the week from a reader addressing me as “Mr. Ghazi.” I wondered if he believed my job in an organization was essentially done by making it to a decision making role, and I laughed. No — I cackled. It was an ugly reaction to a well-meaning observation followed by an equally snarky thought: You know, I might very well be the first left-handed person to sit in this chair in Libe Cafe. I might hold the record for the fastest an Iranian at Cornell has trudged up the Slope to make it to her 10:10 because she spent too long choosing earrings that match her mood. Chances are, at a Cornell that looks and behaves differently from the Cornells that preceded it, you too hold the title for being the first of an identity group to do a whole lot.

GHAZI | Year of No

I think I cracked the secret to adulthood many years and mistakes before I was supposed to: Wash your dishes when you dirty them. It’s advice that hits like “be yourself.” I hear you, I know you’re right, but I just can’t right now. Freshman year, my roommate and I built an impressive stack of dishes atop our microfridge that grew taller with every extracurricular and four-credit course we added. The evidence of our five-minute breakfasts and midnight ramen became the leaning tower of “yeses” we said to everyone but ourselves. I thought I would miss so much about my former Cornell life.

GHAZI | Leaving Youth at College Sunsets

My first love is the person college allowed me to be. In elementary school in Spain, evening meant trading Castilian for Farsi, tossing around my mom’s saffron rice and stews over dinner as I ruminated over how coming from a technically Muslim household meant that the three kings would bring gifts every Christmas but didn’t qualify me for attending religion class with my Catholic peers. While other kids absorbed stories and sat around a table learning once a week, I stayed in homeroom and organized my teacher’s filing cabinets. In the U.S., I tore at my Spanish self for making an English language I had no acquaintance with sound less American. In the evenings, I hid from my family to pore over library books I didn’t understand to cease being the ESL girl who quietly enunciated the words of her picture book about families of bears while others delved into the fantasy worlds of their chapter books.

GHAZI | I Don’t Study Humanities as a Hobby, but a University During Pandemic Has Proven It Thinks So

No question quickens my pulse more than, “What do you study?” Do I lead with the answer? Do I follow with a list of my most enrapturing courses? Or, do I wait and evaluate how much of the validity I earned by saying I go to Cornell will depart from their faces when I reveal my major? “English.” Oh my god, backtrack, reboot, new plan. They think I write bad poetry in a candle-lit room surrounded by second-hand copies of the British canon.

GHAZI | In Social Distancing, We Grieve With Distance Too

I never thought that when grief would knock on my door, I wouldn’t welcome any visitors. I never thought that when the day I lost a loved one arrived, I would stand six feet away from my Baba as he announced to me the passing of his own Baba in our hometown in Iran. I never thought that when my Baba needed me most, he would ask me to step away from him because my embrace could sentence him with the same, cruel virus that took his father. The thing about grief in the time of social distancing is that it is felt in distance too. On Tuesday morning, I woke up with a hunger for a lick-your-fingers after a peanut butter jelly sandwich kind of sweetness.

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR | The Sun Did Intergroup Dialogue Project and so Should You

Each Cornellian brings nearly two decades worth of life experiences to the Hill before we begin to change and be changed by Cornell. In those formative years — spent oceans, state-lines or maybe just a TCAT ride away from our collective home on campus — our communities decided for us whether we wear tennis shoes or sneakers, whether you see actual culinary value in a CTB bagel and whether we deem it acceptable to wear anything thicker than a windbreaker in September. But the places we call home before we arrived on campus, equipped with red lanyards and the identities we brought from those homes, also shape how we react to meeting our often wealthy, artistically talented peers. They affect how absurd we find “a portrait of Jesus with condoms taped to his nipples” in our living space. They determine how desirable we feel in the dating-verse of Cornell.