Recently I filled out a form that required me to indicate where I went to high school— for a moment I paused wondering what I should write. I never finished primary education and all I had for high school was one incomplete first year.
Looking back, I am thankful how far I have come and the long road ahead of me.
My first formal education was at Salt Lake Community College, in Utah in the United States. To this day, I don’t have my Associate Degree because of a pending math class.
Luckily, I transferred my credits to the University of Utah, where in 2011 I graduated with two bachelor degrees in Political Science, International Studies and an advanced certificate in International Relations.
Like most students, parents and friends, the confidence I felt walking down the aisle to be conferred my degrees still echoes in my head. The chaotic moment of cheers, whistles and flashing camera all reminded me of my mother who can’t read or write.
As she always tells me: “I wish my parents had given me the opportunity to go to school.” I am forever indebted to her.
Why am I saying this? I am reacting to a debate I read in The New Times last week; “Experience or Papers: What matters most?” I have been thinking about the same issue for a long time. If degrees and titles guaranteed decent income, or personal satisfaction this would have been a very different story. Here is mine.
In a couple of months I will graduate with a master in Peace Operations. What have I learned? The easy answer, I would be able to articulate how I see the world today and to some extent how it has evolved.
I would have an informed say on political matters, social and economic history. I find pleasure in thinking how countries interact with other states, how NGO and international institutions influence foreign decisions or how globalization has redefined the power of a sovereign nation.
I would go even further to question or appreciate policies through different lenses. Certainly I would be able to ask questions of what type government structures make sense to us, or what relevance foreign influence has on other societies.
Clearly this conversation would prove boring to many, especially those who think politics is a science of brutal probability.
The long version of what I have learned, each day I continue to realize how much I don’t know. New emerging global threats, Ebola, terrorism, economic disruption, global warming all help predict the future of mankind.
The future is not still. This makes my eyes glitter with unknown expectations— you too can attest to this. There are endless possibilities… man has traveled far in the space, science coupled with human curiosity driven creativity is redefining the impossible.
I find answers for pressing questions on the road or in the shower. America with its robust economy never ceases to amaze me. The roads are filled with red taillights like a bleeding nervous system. Its ability to move people, goods and information are among many ambitions African nations are hoping to achieve.
Every government has its own cross to carry. Small emerging markets like Rwanda have to find a way in the global system— so intertwined it is, ideas are imposed on other counties as universal values. Democracy, human rights whether it means to have the freedom for a man to marry a man or the other way, I’ll keep my opinion to myself.
These waves are churning at centre of every government… America today is on the brink of social collapse following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
But that’s just one case. On the other end of political hemisphere sits Russia, ISIS and Boko Haram to name a few.
Really, what have I learned? Graduate school helps you put things in place. Perspective sounds better but that is not guaranteed either. The same is happening with our leaders— fighting to attain energy independency, while maintaining some level of control on government security, whether financial, readiness or other national reserves in times of emergencies.
These are far too big for me to swallow.
As a student for life, I will continue to visualize things I know through the power or perception. Sometimes positive or deceptive, but that is the nature of things. I am learning to be resourceful with my time. Educate myself about new scientific discoveries, and technologies that are changing the world down to the individual.
As young as I am, I lived in a world when making an error on a typing machine could cost you hours to correct. Today, a backspace button has eliminated all that. It is not too often that we think how fast things are changing— from listening to music on a dangling Walkman or MP3 players to having unlimited choices on a cloud storage.
To me, the wealth of knowledge really matters more than mere papers, though I would encourage everyone to have as many degrees as possible.
To me, that is one way I inform myself. I read a lot; some might think I am obsessed but that’s ok. College can only prepare you. Only you know of your pulled heart, follow it.
The reality in the actual world is harsh. At least I find that encouraging— as my friend told me: “you can only learn so much.”