Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Senior Year Reflection of Georgetown

After four years at Georgetown University, I wrote a senior year reflection piece for The Hoya, one of Georgetown's student newspapers. You can read it here.

It's copied below:

An Affair of Struggle and Joy With My Second Home

By Yamiche Alcindor

At this year’s Black Student Alliance Visions of Excellence Ball, an alumni speaker noted in a speech that while she couldn’t remember all the classes she had taken at Georgetown or what books she had read, she did remember that she had loved and was loved. In reflecting on my four years here, her words make more sense now than they did that night. I would, however, make an addition to her words: While I loved and was loved, I also fought and was embattled. The professors, Jesuits, students, staff and others I have met at Georgetown will envelop my emotions for years to come. Georgetown taught me more about human beings and myself than I could have ever imagined. When I walk across the stage on Saturday, I will be saying goodbye to four years of my life where love and hate met, and proceeded to make love every day.

I say this because along with my love for the Hilltop and its stated Jesuit values comes my disappointment in the facets of the university that remain unaccommodating and ultimately biased culturally. As students of color here continue to feel alienated and second-class, I cannot help but say that graduating from Georgetown is bittersweet. I never felt quite like a Hoya. While I have come to love the university, the culture associated most closely with the university always seemed distant. At times, I felt overwhelmed with a thought: Maybe they do not want me here.

While I became accustomed to being one of a few students of color in my class, as a native of Miami, this took a lot of getting used to. I struggled with DPS reports that described men that looked like my brother — 6-foot black men in dark jackets. I struggled with professors who assumed I played a sport because of the color of skin. No, I do not need to work around my sports schedule. I came to distrust DPS officers that seemed most present at the parties thrown by the Black Student Alliance and other students of color. I became frustrated when I realized how little power I had as a student in voicing my disapproval of the way students of color are made to feel here. And most painfully, someone has drunkenly called me the “n word” more times than I care to mention.

Over the last four years, I have cried, screamed and been frustrated with people, the administration and the overall unaccommodating culture on the Hilltop. Nevertheless, in those same moments, I was growing and falling more in love with the beautiful struggle that is Georgetown. While here, I had to better understand my identity and question the idea of being black. I had to accept the social constructs of race while still understanding the concreteness of walking outside my door and simply being black to all who look at me. Between town hall meetings denouncing this very publication and late-night talks about life, I learned how to deal with people who may not always agree with me. I learned that I do believe Georgetown can and should do a better job of not just admitting but retaining and nurturing the students of color here. Through all these experiences, I also drew closer to my faith. I truly came to own my Catholic identity.

If I could give anyone some advice about Georgetown, it would be this: Make it your own. Take classes that make you happy, enjoy people’s company and do not compare your experiences to others’. The friends I have made, the people I have come to love and the moments that I have shared with others will remain with me forever. I leave Georgetown ready for the next step in life. Like many students graduating this spring, I don’t know what I will be doing next year, but I have a support system born out of Georgetown that will help me get there.

In a journal entry I wrote the summer before starting at Georgetown, I reflected, “I am going to Georgetown looking for something that I can’t quite verbalize.” Four years later, I realize I was looking for an understanding of others and myself. I was looking to fill a void in my life left by absent family members and societal prejudices. In filling that void with God, friends and family members, I fell in love with Georgetown, and it is as stressful as any loving relationship. I toss and turn with its ideas. I make love to its best parts. And I wake up every day happily holding its memories.

Yamiche Alcindor is a senior in the College, a former co-editor in chief of The Fire This Time, the current resident director of the Black House and the second vice president of the Omicron Pi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

No comments: