Knowledge Really Is Power:

Tomorrow marks the start of a new Fall semester for me — the start of my second year at university. I feel that surviving a year of university requires reflection in order to prepare for surviving the next, and the only thing that pops up in my mind when I reflect upon the last year is change, and the power that came with that change.

Maybe it’s the liberal arts education — no, it’s definitely the liberal arts education. In the past year I have been stressed beyond belief, but I’ve survived. I’ve stayed up until 3 am, something I’d never done before in my academic career; I’ve met deadlines I thought I could never meet, and most importantly, I’ve studied things that have redefined my perception of the world, and consequently my own world. In fact there a lot of things I’ve done at Habib which I never thought I would be able to do; I’ve celebrated Nowruz and Holi; I made a documentary on my smart phone; I’ve donated blood twice; I’ve played basketball and tennis for the first time; I gave a presentation in front of some 200-odd people; I helped paint a Wall of Kindness... I know these don’t sound like much, but for me these were big, personal achievements. These were achievements for my family too, because I was availing opportunities my parents never had access to, which is what they saw when they came to Habib for the first time. Yes, it wasn’t always that way; at the start, they were hesitant about sending their only child to a new university, but they took the risk with me because they understood what I meant when I said that I wanted more from life than the mainstream. My father didn’t want me to join ‘the rat-race’, as he called business schools; he wanted me to study what I loved — to be happy with what I learn.

And I am happy, because the change I felt through this year was something positive; I was more vocal; more assured in what I was saying. I wasn’t afraid of arguing with someone any more, because I knew enough to be confident in what I was saying.

When I met school-mates after a year, they told me how much I had matured; how wonderfully I had transformed — the same school-mates who were trying to talk me out of going to a liberal arts university, questioning my sanity.

I suppose there isn’t just one thing that my first year at university has taught me; there is so much I’ve learned. I’ve learned the importance of believing in yourself, and swimming against the current rather than with it. I’ve learned that I am capable of much more than I had previously thought, as well as learning about my weakness. my biases, my bigotry. And more than that, I’ve learned that it is possible to change things; to change yourself; and to change the world around you. I’ve learned that experiences are what make life worth living, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I was given to experience here. The knowledge that I have gained, and the environment at Habib, remind me of that every single day; they remind that rhetoric matters; actions matter; and that I, as an individual, matter. And there’s just something incredibly empowering about that knowledge; about that change. There’s something incredibly empowering in living in an environment where you get to practice what you preach…

And if these are the changes that have occurred in one year, I am happy as I wonder about how many changes will occur in another year; I am excited to learn more about myself and those around me; where it’s been dark in terms hard work. insecurities, and hurt, there’s also been light in terms of joy, pride and profound discovery.