And so it has finally come to this, my friends, a moment often imagined but simultaneously denied: the time to say good-bye to Harvard. With all goodbyes comes the frightening reality of a life that we will leave behind; four years of a lifetime when you are only 21 is not a short time at all.
For three years, I have had the opportunity and privilege of sharing my opinion with all of you. Although I admit that I have complained quite a bit, that I have often written words of anger and disappointment with a biting sarcasm which has certainly maintained me in the solid consistency of the Saturday column of The Crimson (affectionately known as the "lighter day" paper), I have learned a lot, and I have grown as a writer and as a person. The Crimson has provided me with the means to voice my opinion and be heard, and that has been invaluable for me.
I have thought about this a lot, and perhaps my writing style is governed by the belief and hope for change, development, growth--if not universally, then at least individually. I believe that everyone has certain ideas, ideologies, philosophies which they hold dear to them. They range from certain religious and cultural customs and practices to even political and social issues such as an opinion on affirmative action, or immigration policies. In life, we will all have to encounter challenges to these ideologies, instances when the masses believe differently, and we are pressured to submit, other times when people will view us differently because of opposing ideologies.
But a very wise woman once told me that if you can identify one ideology and travel with it across battlefields which fight against it in the course of your life and still maintain that same belief even though it has been challenged to the very root, even though you oscillated here and there, then that belief is yours for life. Such an experience it has been for me at Harvard, and this personal growth to me is just as valuable as any social change that may have occurred in my time here as well.
In my four years at Harvard, I have been constantly impressed with the diversity of students and faculty and I have been often stimulated by the capacity of students to think and to challenge one another, faculty and the many experts who surround us. The brilliance that exudes from this campus is overwhelming. It is my hope that we understand we are only a piece of the grand brilliance which exists in this world. Too often we have gotten lost in our own glory, thinking ourselves much too large for the rest of the world. Harvard is but one institution; the complex is but one think tank, the students and the faculty are but one fraction of the population. And one institution, one think tank, one fraction of the population cannot alone enforce change, cannot alone make the world go round.
College is a four-year period of constant and stunning change. We are nothing like we were when we were first-years. We have met new people, made wonderful friends, had classic experiences and learned a great deal, not only in the lecture halls and office hours, but also in our dorm rooms, in the dining halls and in the constant interaction and communication with our friends. I believe that we ourselves are our greatest resource. Books, professors and lectures are certainly important, but the interaction that we have with our friends, the ups and downs--these experiences provide us with the foundation for the way we will approach the rest of our lives. This is the most valuable aspect of our college education.
Who knows what lies ahead? When I think about it, I am engulfed by a sea of fear, insecurity and nostalgia. It is hard to leave the only thing you have really known for four years to tackle a powerful and frightening world, from which we have been sheltered during our stay here. I am hoping that the challenges I will encounter will be difficult but by no means insurmountable. I am hoping that that one ideology will remain at my side, if not always in my heart.
My friends, Harvard is but one short train ride on the long journey of life. Soon it will be time to board the train again until the next stop.
This is Nancy Raine Reyes' last column.
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