By Ashley Do, GU Impacts Fellow
July 12, 2016
When I reflect on my life before Georgetown, I cannot believe how different I am in terms of my education, the people I’ve met, or the way I see the world. In high school, I focused on my bubble of an experience. I concentrated on the extracurriculars I was involved in and worked toward getting that acceptance letter from a university, all the while, I was completely unaware of the world I was growing up in. My history classes were merely more information I had to memorize for a test, and reading the news was an activity only my parents did to pass the time. I did not understand how my actions or my education were affected by the world I was living in.
My first two years at Georgetown have been a game of catch-up. Even when I met people during New Student Orientation, I felt inadequate when I asked someone where he was from, to get a reply like, “I was born in London, but my parents moved us to Hong Kong, and now we live in Los Angeles.” My answer was simply, “San Jose, California.” I felt like an imposter in this new sophisticated, well-traveled, and intellectual world of Georgetown students. It seemed like everyone knew more than I did, and I would have to catch up on years of missed knowledge to even hold a conversation with someone. Although the feeling of not being able to measure up can be dangerous at times, I will forever be grateful to Georgetown for igniting in me the desire to be more – to learn about the world beyond my personal bubble.
Attending Georgetown has taught me a lot. It has challenged me to be open to non-linear career paths. It has allowed me to meet some of the most incredible people with life stories I thought were only possible in novels. It has taught me how to stay up to date with TheSkimm, New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, while also watching the latest Beyoncé music video and knowing the latest trending topic on Facebook. The allure of Georgetown is that it is a place that houses an incredible amount of knowledge, and it is up to its students to access it and use it effectively.
So here I am, spending my summer in Nicaragua working for a social enterprise that wants to improve the issue of education for those of low socioeconomic classes. I have challenged myself to travel somewhere that I would not have thought of going to before and immersed myself into the world of social impact. I am grateful to take advantage of a truly unique opportunity that will not only help my professional development, but also my personal. Most importantly though, I have attempted to apply the same hungry learning mindset that I have at Georgetown to my experience with GU Impacts.
In a book titled “You Majored in What?”, the author argues for a departure of the linear mindset – the idea that one’s major should directly correlate with one’s future career goals – and instead, supports the “chaos theory.” This theory re-contextualizes one’s career aspirations as a complex but open-minded learning process. And for the most part, I agree with the author. I believe in having diverse interests and that education does not only take place in a classroom. Believing in chaotic order is how I make sense of having an interest in both finance and marketing while also being attracted to the world of retail and luxury while maintaining a curiosity for international development. It is important for young adults to cultivate an interest in a lot of different areas to explore all the opportunities available.
However, that contention has recently been a point of challenge for me during my summer internship. I equate this feeling of disarray to a desire to fall in love. I have all the qualities that I hope to find in someone, and talking to different people is great, but I want to have that one person – that focal point – I can develop a relationship with. How do I take all my interests and all that I want to learn and transform them into a passion that can serve as the glue of my story? How can I be a sponge and learn all that I can while in Nicaragua, but also developing a focus that I want to learn more deeply about? What if I don’t necessarily want to have a linear mindset, but I still want to find something that I am devoted to?
My challenge for the remaining four weeks of my internship in Nicaragua is to find something that I want to take away. I want to be able to return to the Hilltop with not only knowledge of the environment I spent over two months in, but also a viewpoint of why GU Impacts is important to my narrative. Meanwhile, I am reminding myself that, similar to my transition to Georgetown, my experience in Nicaragua and my remaining time at Georgetown is a chaotic journey, and there exists an axis from which this chaos stems. I have yet to find it, and it will take time, but there is comfort in that out of chaos, I will learn something about myself and the world that I had previously not known.
The views, opinions, and positions expressed by the author of this article do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University or any employee thereof.