I technically began writing my last blog post as I was finishing my last philosophy essay – there was something about looking inwards while writing the essay that forced me to think about my last blog post. I pondered what would be my defining last words on this small space I was honoured to contribute to. I wondered whether I should give a summary of my stay here – but I realised I was not capable of summarising an entire magical wonderful semester into one post. I also realised I should do justice to the emotions I feel as I leave GWU, my home for the past few months. And so, inspired by St. Augustine, the Christian philosopher who I was reviewing for the past final month, here are my humble confessions.
In the name of God, the most Compassionate, the most Merciful.
I begin with expressing highest of gratitude to Him who gave me the strength and health and who aligned my life such that I was destined to visit The George Washington University, located in the capital of the most powerful nation in the material world.
I would also like to express the highest of gratitude to my parents who are the premise of my existence and my education both at home and here in D.C.
I would extend further gratitude to The George Washington University, specifically the Office of Study Abroad, for selecting me among many to be part of this exchange programme.
The best of gratitude and heartfelt regards to the friends I have made here who made me feel at home – my colonial brothers and sisters. I am ultimately grateful for every single cupcake trip, every study session in the library, every moment we shared. It was hard saying goodbye to all you wonderful beings.
I regret to say that I find myself unable to adequately fulfil the intention of my exchange visit. I am unable to say that I have learned everything there is to learn here. There is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that could not have been imparted on me even with the amount of time I had here.
What I am able to say is that I have learned was I was destined to have learned.
I learned from the Americans the culture of greeting each other: sometimes it is just a “Hey, how are you doing?”, and other times it involved talking about our families and their state of health and being. It is something I will bring back to my home, a place so efficient that greetings rob us of precious time, resulting in opportunities lost. No, GWU and America in general has opened my eyes to the humanity of existence which I shall attempt to impart on my fellow countrymen when I return.
I learned from GWU the theories and philosophies relevant to my studies. I learned US Foreign Policy in the very place that will produce policy makers. I also learned the problems or race and ethnicity in education, in the very place where history was made with the Civil Rights Movement. I ascended up Mt. Vernon to learn the philosophy of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Seneca and Saint Augustine – to name a few – separate from the main campus and the world in general, in a space where I was able to look upwards into the world of Forms and inwards into the internal subjective experiences. Out of an amazing university, in just a semester, I have developed myself academically and intellectually, challenged by bright minds of students from American and from all over the world. The culture of speaking up and loud here disciplined myself to think fast, speak clearly and analyse arguments with a sharp and critical mind faster.
I learned from the memorials and museums, the depth of Western and human (in general) history. I learned the emotional and physical costs of war and its repercussions, even if we attempt to be as just as possible.
I learned from my fellow exchange students the meaning of friendship, even if just for a small moment in our lives.
How do I say goodbye to something that is still part of me? It remains a mystery to me. I will always look back at my blog posts and my photos – posted and un-posted. There is an Arabic jahili poem which gives me a clue to the sorrow I feel leaving D.C.
أَمُـرُّ عَلَـى الدِّيَـارِ دِيَـارِ لَيْلَــى أُقَبِّــلُ ذَا الجـِدَارَا وَذَا الجــِدَارَا
وَمَـا حُـبُّ الدِّيَـارِ شَغَفْـنَ قَلْبِـي ولَكِـنْ حُـبُّ مَنْ سَكَـنَ الدِّيَـارَا
I passed the house of Layla and I kissed the walls
But it is not the love of the walls that enrapture my heart, It is but the love of the one that stays in those walls
I do not miss the walls of the Gelman library, I do not miss the statues and monuments, I do not miss my lecture theatres and my books. What I miss are the people who were part of my life here, the school, my lecturers and friends:
During my last “party” in D.C., I played “secret santa” and exchanged gifts with friends from all over the world. I am very grateful for the gift I received and the whole experience of the farewell party. I can only be hopeful that we will see each other again. Those who share the same academic interests as me will definitely keep in touch with me to continue or discussions and debates. Those who don’t, we will still keep in touch, out of the value and meaning of our friendship.
I wish all of you all the best in your future endeavours. Goodbye D.C.and GWU, may we meet again.
Written while catching a flight home!