Imagine a big colonial house with an interior garden the size of the ADP lab which has deteriorated as time has passed by. Now place yourself inside this garden which only has one tree, and the temperature is 85 degrees. This is my brother's medicine school in Coro, Venezuela.
When I visited there, I was shocked. "How can they study here?," I asked myself, and before I knew it, I was criticizing every part of it. As we walked towards the garden, a guy approached me and my brother.
"Epale! You are Carlos, right? Your brother talked so much about you... I am Jose Medina." "Hey! Doctor Jesus, we've been waiting for you, the patient just died!," said another student jokingly, as he approached us.
In seconds, I had met around ten people, who were now telling jokes and stories in which they and my brother had been involved. All of a sudden, I just realized that the whole garden was full of joyful people, talking and laughing, not caring about the weather or the way the building looked. It felt weird. After I got used to it, right after my Latino roots had waken up from a long sleep, I was having a blast with my brother's friends, who had instantly become my friends. The feeling was great.
We go to school here in the USA, where "personal space" is a sacred religion and on which winter not only seems to make our bodies cold but also our feelings...I will never see the Quad that full of people interacting and sharing with each other, not even half that full, on a regular day. Maybe we should have a mandatory class called "Sharing with real people," so we don't forget how to behave in situations where people are supposed to "really" interact. How many times on campus, have you really said a "Hello!" that you have truly meant? Or felt glad you had ran into a close friend of yours? Few.
We live in an environment in which people could not care less. We live in an environment where, as one of my friends said once, people feel more comfortable talking to you through a computer, than face to face. In an environment in which people love more to criticize than to help make things better. My friend also said, that just for fun, you should go one day, saying "Hi" and smiling to everybody you meet. Just watch everyone freaking out, and looking at you weird, trying to figure out what the heck is wrong with you. You try it if you don't believe me.
I remember my dad telling me once that college was so great..."that is where the life-long friendships are made!" he said. How can that be here, when everybody just cares about themselves, and are happier criticizing Worcester or WPI all day long, rather than trying to make the most out of being here?
We lack unity, big time. Sometimes I feel that some people would be really happy if they could have a secret tunnel connecting their room to their classroom, so they could go to class directly and avoid meeting people. How many times have you sat in the same place everyday, in any of your classes? Could you possibly tell me the name of the guy sitting right next to you, how about two more seats in front of you? How many times have you had to wait for a professor to show up? How many of those times have you talked more than two sentences with the student sitting right next to you? How many times have people begged you for feedback?
I was the president of the HSA, and I know from my experience that most of the time, one needs to implore and beg members for help with doing something that was supposed to be for their own benefit too! And believe me, it is pretty much the same with most other clubs. However, every time a big event is coming up, we seem to pull together and finally, after big and long fights, get it done. We feel pride for five seconds about our own group effort and we feel great about it. But as soon as we take three more steps, we forget about it again and go back to our secret tunnel where no one can reach us.
Isn't it time, for all of us, to really start coming together and give just a little bit of ourselves to other people? Maybe if we could do that Worcester would not be so cold after all and maybe my father could be right! But of course, I will wait until you log out.