Like most of us, I have grown up in a society where having a “purpose” is the highest expectation. We must have a purpose, a path, an end goal. We are plopped into an education system that resembles an assembly line; as we progress through the different stages, more and more pieces, advancements, and flaws are slapped onto us until we are thrown out of the system, shiny and new – yet feeling a bit used. Our society has high expectations for its youth. We must be smart, creative, curious, yet knowledgeable. Well-spoken. And educated. This means getting a bachelor’s, a master’s, a PhD. But how educated can you be when you’ve been in school for a good 4-10 years? Yes, you have gained experience and knowledge of the real world throughout your life. But there is a large difference between gaining experiences through school, and doing so out in the “real” world. For example, there are so many things going on in the world that Bates College is either unaware of, or consciously does little about. We, as a campus, are not using our collective power to help bring a change in the world. We may be “breeding” the changers of the world, but this does not necessarily mean we are giving them the experience needed.
I personally believe that college is a very important part of our lives. It gives us a taste of independence, adulthood, and most importantly, knowledge. But I do think that it is a bubble. This bubble protects us and allows us to continue our existence as curious students without the interruptions of the outside world. One could go their entire four years at Bates College without taking a religion or gender studies course, without seeing the extreme poverty in Lewiston, or even without acknowledging the diversity issues we have on campus. This fact goes the same way for many, many other colleges and universities across the world. I strongly believe that we need more creativity in our world, more individuals seeking adventure and a new perspective. Instead of living in a bubble, we should travel, speak with people from different cultures and statuses in life, and work for the pure purpose of working. I learned more about the world living in another country for a month than I did in my four years in high school. The balance between the real world and school is a fine one, especially for those of us who are eager to receive our degrees as well as travel.
Traveling costs money, and leaving a safe and loving community is incredibly difficult. But I do believe that there are ways that anyone, including the people at Bates, can help themselves experience both the real world outside of Bates College and within it. Bates students should take charge of their life and pop the bubble that surrounds us. I urge all of you to read the news; volunteer in the Lewiston community; take a year abroad; take charge and organize social justice activities. The world needs innovators, lovers, and activists right now. I believe that simply going to school and getting a job will not prepare us fully to become the change we wish to see in the world.