This past weekend I watched as my older sister followed my precise footsteps and graduated from the University of New Hampshire. In casual conversation, one might cock their head slightly in puzzlement, peering skeptically into my eyes as inquisitors do.
After high school my sister decided to volunteer her service to the Israeli Defense Force. She left the United States in search of a different life than the one she had always known. Her calling was her own; she chose the path few have fulfilled. I admire the sacrifice she made. This is the reason why my older sister to graduate after me; not because of scholarly inaptitude.
The commencement ceremony was nearly identical to the one I experienced a year prior. At first, I was overcome with melancholy and nostalgia as I reminisced over the memories of my former college. I had spent four years of my life -- many of the best, I might add -- in a community that, from time to time, even neglected me. At this point I'm beyond holding grudges, though. Although I was only a spectator this time, I still remember the bittersweet taste of graduation. As I gazed upon the faces of the impassioned graduates -- many of whom I knew personally -- I couldn't help but revere and, to a certain extent, envy them.
Only one year has passed since I graduated from the University of New Hampshire, but so much has already changed. I accredit much of my personal growth to the advanced education I am receiving at Georgetown University. In my honest opinion, I should only be so lucky. However, I believe knowledge acquisition in only one tenet to a successful and fulfilling life. Only since living in Washington, D.C., a metropolis teeming with hordes of ideologues, artists, hipsters, academics, professionals, politicians and explorers, have I begun to perceive my world in renewed light.
There are people in this world who have dedicated their entire existence to finding ways to help others. And I don't mean to insinuate that these individuals constitute any kind of majority, for they do not. Yet, there is something profound about knowing such human beings exist, in theory, and actually witnessing the amount of personal sacrifice inherent in attempting to change the world. Unfortunately, we live in a society that idolizes sacrifice in the singular sense (think of the Horatio Alger and Steve Jobs narratives) more than the plural sense (Martin Luther Kind, Jr., Gandhi). It takes a particular breed of community to instill a value system that encourages civic and civil service, equality, honor, discipline and respect.
Sitting at yet another commencement reminded me that the greatest achievements in life sometimes derive from the most humble of circumstances. Where will I be a year from now, I wonder? How much more will have changed?
Much, I presume.