Like all great things in life, they must always have an end. As sad as it may be, my time here at UPenn is officially coming to a close. With just today separating my experiences here and my departure date, the reality of how time can fly when you are having one of the best times of your life.
|Teaching Fellow Posters|
Now to recap my lavish day. It began bright and early compared to others. Being the last day, a large portion of the class had decided to show our appreciation of Andy and the various teaching fellows by making giant posters which everyone signed and elegantly decorated to manifest the personalities of each one. We all decided to "commandeer" control of the class before anyone showed up in order to set up the posters and create a brief PowerPoint presentation to highlight all the subjects we had discussed in class over the course of the past 3 weeks. The greatest moment of this experience was seeing the emotional look on the faces of all the teaching fellows and Andy. To me, it appeared as a face of proudness in all of us. Some even got a bit emotional as this was such a surprise for many of them. It was a reaction that made feel good inside and one that will be imprinted in my mind for ages to come.
After our brief celebration, it was back to business. As part of the morning session, we were treated to a guest speaker, Professor Butler, who taught African American history at UPenn. She came in to talk to us a bit about her experiences with combating racial injustice throughout her life. For example, she explained how the experiences her father had sustained with the Jim Crow laws in the South had portrayed to her the level of racial injustice that existed even after the abolition of slavery. Furthermore, she also discussed various issues she found in terms of religion and how they manifest a sense of racial and sexist inequality. Each religion was briefly depicted to contribute in some form to this level of injustice in society. Moreover, to enhance this argument, she illustrated the present issue that existed between Israel and Palestine and how the struggle epitomized the effects of religion on society. Lastly, she left us with a few words of valuable advice for anyone who sought to make social change in society. First was that with any social movement, there is always a cost. At times this involves political, societal or even internal challenges that must be overcome in order to achieve success. Second was that, in life, you should always do, that which makes you feel fulfilled. No matter where you go in life or the economic disposition you may find yourself if, doing the things you love will always bring you happiness. Never let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve something because as the saying goes "if you can believe, you will achieve, and you will succeed".
|More teaching fellows and Andy's|
|A few figures who have served as my inspiration|
From this point on, the story of my day turns into a more emotional one. For the first part of the afternoon session, we were treated to a special guest performance by the musical activist group, Mahina Movement. They were composed of three woman from entirely different backgrounds who possessed similar ideas of social justice and elected to combine their talents in music to become activists. They sang a few songs for us all of which possessed very powerful and impacting messages that truly touched my heart. The topics ranged from heritage and one's own identity, to the reality of the corruption of the U.S and how the capitalistic mindset is the burden it carries. As a workshop exercise after their musical performance, we were given a set of three words, out of which we had to write down words we felt were associated in some way to them. The three words we were given were "love", "community" and "I am...". All of these inspired a wide array of ideas and opinions, however, one thing that surprised me was the amount of students who participated in reading out what they had written to the class. Even the shyest of students mustered enough courage to go up and speak which was truly inspiring to me. The last part of this portion of the session was that we were asked to help create a song that revolved around social justice. As a theme we chose community, and therefore we named our song "I am Somebody, We are One". It manifested not only unity by not only incorporating the same phrase in a vast array of languages, but also brought us all together through music. After this, the true emotional part came where we heard our final remarks from all the teaching fellows and Andy. It was very moving to see how close we had all become over the course of the past three weeks and it felt good to have developed that sense of community between us all. My aspirations are for us all to keep in constant communication and I hope to be able to succeed.
The evening was very similar to the afternoon session, many people all saying goodbyes and enjoying the last of their time together. Personally I know I will miss everyone I have met here, because in some way they have influenced who I have become and who I strive to be. Now that the program comes to an end, I realize the value friends play in my life and how I owe a lot to each and everyone of them. I cannot even put into words the emotions I feel for having to leave everyone, but I know that wherever life may take us, we will become the future leaders of tomorrow.
|The best RC group I could have ever asked for|