After my first year as a Mount Holyoke student, the thought of being back home for anything longer than 20 days was unsettling. Not because I wasn’t happy to go home, I was. But merely because my first eight months on campus had impacted me much more than I had anticipated. Here’s why.
When the weight of a global topic feels too big — too daunting, too insurmountable, too entrenched — people often feel too small. Too small to effect change and too small to lead the way forward.
When the weight of a global topic is tackled via a movement of audacious individuals — who are open and willing to share their stories of successes and struggles, collaborations and innovations — a palpable shift can begin to unfold. The shift from “this feels impossible” to “this feels possible” requires a spark. A spark in energy, in mentors, in collective thought and momentum.
A lot of things went wrong during my semester abroad in Shanghai, China. Specifically with the living abroad part of studying abroad (the academic part is another blog altogether). Some of these mishaps didn’t really have an upside. When I couldn’t find my brand of dry shampoo, for example, there was no miraculous Chinese alternative ... I just used baby powder. But most disasters shook out OK, like when my favorite Korean fried rice place closed earlier than expected and I bought dinner from a nearby food stand I’d have never tried otherwise. It was about 8 kuai cheaper and the best fried rice I’ve ever had, bar none.
All told, these situations led me to try, taste, explore and experience things that I may not have otherwise — and to grow in ways that were never on my agenda.
The first thing that I did when I got to Seoul, South Korea, for my monthlong independent research project — funded by the College’s Lynk curriculum-to-career initiative — was miss my bus stop.
As I clicked the “Launch Project Now” button, the Kickstarter website for my creation went live. I sat back in my chair and thought about how my journey to this moment — the launch of my ZIRUI Go Case — all started.