On the Map, Off the Radar
As senior fall comes to a close, I find myself increasingly reflective on my four years at Harvard. Am I the person I want to be to others? How will I be remembered when I graduate? Are the people I am making time for the people who will still be in my life 10 years down the road? All of these questions are impossible to answer and somewhat cliché, but I nonetheless find myself trapped in endless nostalgia, already missing my college years as if they are already gone. As Eric T. Justin ’13 described in his column “Harvard’s Whiny One-Upmanship,’” sometimes we all become too “busy” or too self-absorbed to appreciate and enjoy arguably one of the most carefree times of our lives, where we are free to pursue any academic interest and where all our best friends live within walking distance. Our time here is finite, and each day is a new opportunity to start over and be the person we want our classmates to remember us as.
Around the holiday season, I usually donate to charitable organizations as “gifts” for my friends and family. In light of recent (and ongoing) debates about international humanitarian aid, I found myself researching the literature and discussions of the effectiveness of humanitarian aid in developing countries. The arguments I am interested in exploring are those that claim that international humanitarian aid is unable to fix long-term problems in developing countries, that it is at best a “band-aid” approach and at worst a destructive and corrupting force.
Governments of the Western industrialized world have provided over $4.6 trillion in aid to developing countries over the last half-century. This is problematic because studies have shown that there is a correlation between increase in foreign aid and decrease in economic growth. Aid promotes foreign imports, which may threaten local businesses and limit national and international trade. Considering that 70 percent of public funds in Africa come from aid, one can imagine the detrimental effects it has had on the economies of the continent.
Here at Harvard, an education isn’t just about what we learn in class, but also about the incredible classmates and faculty we have the opportunity to learn from and get to know during our short four years here.
It is easy to get caught up in the former half: successfully completing papers, problem sets, and projects, yet failing to take the time to get to know the faculty who are not only experts in their fields, but are also mentors here to encourage us and offer advice as we embark on our academic and life journeys.
History is being rewritten. A game-changing court case involving Kenyan victims of the violence during British colonial rule is calling the history of the British colonial time into question. Not only is the British government on trial for the atrocities committed in its colonial past in Kenya, but the case also opens the door for dozens of other potential cases against the British government from other parts of its former empire. Harvard professor of history Caroline M. Elkins played a key role in finding and organizing the evidence that helped the Kenyan claimants win their historic hearing at the High Court in London this past summer.
Nearly 60 years ago in colonial Kenya, the British placed thousands of Kikuyu people in detention camps to stop the Mau Mau insurgency, an anti-British rebel movement. The British colonial government tortured, maimed, or executed 90,000 Kenyans between 1952 and 1963. Three elderly Kenyans recently pressed charges against the British government for their treatment in these camps and won the right to a full trial, positioning them to get an official apology from the United Kingdom, as well as financial compensation.
We often think of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder as an ailment affecting soldiers returning from combat. But how is it being diagnosed and treated in other parts of the world? Zaki Djemal ’14, a former Israeli soldier, has worked in both Japan and South Sudan with IsraAID, an organization that, among other things, helps in the treatment of PTSD.
Though Japanese are suffering from PTSD after the March 11, 2011 tsunami and the South Sudanese are suffering from PTSD after 38 years of a bloody civil war, Djemal noted some surprising similarities and contradictions in the development and treatment of PTSD programs in both countries.