Life Outside the “Cave”
“Once he got out of the cave, he had a choice to make,” I said to my friend on the way to Columbia University’s economic and political development retreat. I could not believe that three years out of BIC, we were discussing Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and how one can always learn more. BIC continues to permeate my thoughts! After Baylor, I moved to Miami to teach for two years with Teach for America (TFA) and am currently at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs getting a Masters in International Affairs. I graduated from Baylor in 2007 with a desire to pour back into the world. Engaging classes in BIC and eye-opening experiences while volunteering in Waco ignited my passion to pursue a career in development.
Immediately following my graduation from Baylor, I taught in an impoverished TFA school in inner-city Miami populated by predominantly African-American and Haitian students. There I internalized the Teach for America vision that all students can achieve at advanced levels when teachers enforce high expectations. I was challenged by the complexities involved with the school system and saw that my students were in need of an excellent education. Education is a basic tenant to human security.
While at Baylor, I spent a summer in Haiti working and volunteering. Though meeting immediate needs in Haiti, I observed prolific systematic injustices. Families raise money for medicine, but hospitals continue to close down; students receive a college education, but work opportunities are scarce. In Haiti, there exists a proverb that says, “van plen pa gros,” meaning, the stomach is full, not fat. Haitians explain that filling the stomach with food is a temporary solution, not satisfying a person for life. Accordingly, long term solutions are needed in Haiti, and I am determined to help.
As I continue to learn and grow here at Columbia I again realize the many “caves” that I still live in. I am currently working on a research team through the United Nations study program on statebuilding and private sector development in Haiti. There never seems to be a shortage of information to learn, and as I learn more about Haiti, the more I realize how complex the situation is.
This powerful combination of international affairs studies and grassroots volunteerism cultivated my vocational objectives in economic and social development. Some of my professional goals are to work with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations in post-conflict nations such as East Timor or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I still have much to learn, and I am grateful to BIC for challenging me to climb out of my cave!