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Thank You, Harvard

By Hannah M. Borowsky

As I sat at home eating a long-awaited Thanksgiving meal with my family this past week, I could not help but reflect in the nostalgic, if cliché, way that people do at this time of year on the many things in my life for which I am tremendously thankful. Specifically, on this Thanksgiving, it was Harvard to which I wanted to give thanks.

For the past month, I have participated in a nearly perpetual bemoaning of Harvard’s culture. “All we do is whine about how much work we have,” “My friends from high school are having so much fun; college isn’t supposed to be like this,” “Why can’t we even bring ourselves to relax during the week of the Game?” But while at times it feels like the work-life balance here is perpetually askew, relationships are confined to 45-minute dinners in dining halls, and pressures to be productive at all times are all-consuming, this Thanksgiving, it was still Harvard I wanted to thank.

I am thankful to have met some of the most interesting and passionate people on the planet: a girl I met while running who is able to convey the urgency of our climate crisis in an inspirational and accessible way, a freshman entryway mate who is traveling to India over winter break to study art, a blockmate who actually glows when he talks about neurobiology, and a friend who is so moved by the readings in her poetry class that I often find myself being read passages of Keats.

I am thankful to have unparalleled opportunities for intellectual engagement and exploration at the tip of my fingers. Beginning to browse next semesters’ course catalogue (one of my procrastination activities at this point in the semester), I am overwhelmed by the multitude of unique and interesting classes we can take with professors whose extraordinary accomplishments are matched by a sincere love for their subjects. And then there is the onslaught of events we can attend: from discussions with world leaders to lectures on science and cooking, from conferences on social entrepreneurship to bike rides to Walden Pond with the Outing Club, from Habitat for Humanity build days to student art and music productions. To be in a place and a point in our lives where we get to learn something new literally every day is something to be very thankful for. Our job right now is to read interesting articles, do experiments, visit museums, make arguments, hear speakers, and just learn. What an enviable task!

I’m thankful for the increased awareness of mental health issues that has been brought to campus this year. Such efforts include a new workgroup on student stress, discussions with President Faust, and an event dedicated to sharing experiences with mental illness through art. It’s not infrequently that I find myself talking about some aspect of mental health over dinner with a friend—a testament to a changing climate at Harvard in which these important yet sensitive topics are no longer off limits.

I am thankful for the opportunity this past week to vote on three absolutely critical referenda in the Undergraduate Council election and to be part of a student body that is calling loudly for divestment from fossil fuels, reevaluation of our sexual assault policy, and creation of a social choice endowment fund. It is inspiring to be a part of student movements for a more sustainable, fair, equitable, and humane world.

I am thankful to be a student in one of the best cities in the country. I love riding the Red Line between Harvard and MIT, eavesdropping on some graduate student talking about his dissertation. I like running along the Charles and speculating about whether the guy running towards me is from Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Boston College, Boston University, or Northeastern. There’s something both comforting and energizing about being surrounded by so many students.

Thanksgiving isn’t the holiday for resolutions—that holiday is still coming. But with only a few weeks left of the semester, I am making a resolution. I am going to stop lamenting over life at Harvard. There are significant things we can do to improve student life here, and undoubtedly we should be continually working to do so. However, there are so many things we have to be thankful for. We will only enjoy our college experience to the fullest when we can embrace life at Harvard for all that it is, and it is awfully spectacular.

Hannah M. Borowsky ’15, a Crimson editorial comper, is an organismic and evolutionary biology concentrator in Leverett House.

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