I remember my first week at Georgetown, back when the welcome event was in front of Village C West on the lawn. Learning the Georgetown chants, traditions, and seeing everyone together in one space made me excited to be a part of this community for the next four years.
Though sometimes Georgetown felt static, frustrating, even suffocating, I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. The professors and dean I’ve encountered have broadened my outlook. They have given me the opportunity to think critically and form more of an opinion on multiple topics while being supportive in all of my endeavors.
But my most valuable learning experiences here did not come from the classroom. Instead, they came from the Center for Social Justice, particularly from DC Reads. I have spent practically all of my time there, so much that some would joke it is my second (if not first) home. And I don’t mind.
Through my experiences in Ward 7, located on the other side of the Anacostia River, I have explored topics barely spoken about while learning from students and community members. I’ve seen remarkable and productive people at work, and I’ve also seen what doesn’t work. I’ve developed an understanding of my responsibility to understand the issues surrounding the community and deliberately and thoughtfully participated in actions for change.
In some ways, it comes down to the good old Jesuit sayings: cura personalis or perhaps, “men and women for others.” In reality, it is so much more. To dedicate time to an issue, to learn the ins and outs and to realize there is much more to learn makes it even more exciting. I’ve realized there is nothing like putting the things I have learned in the classroom into action, and in return challenging some of those teachings with the lessons that I have learned personally. Learning D.C., cherishing its people and extending my community beyond the front gates has given me an invaluable perspective for classes and for my own life. I know my Georgetown experience could not have been complete without this newly shaped worldview.
Looking back to the beginning, before I grew so much in this city I have come to love, it was difficult moving from Las Vegas and not really knowing anyone; we have all been there. It was annoying on that first walk to M Street, when I was used to driving everywhere. Later, it became funny when I could make that trek like nothing and everyone from home who visited complained.
On campus, it was a new type of taste the first time I went to Leo’s, not that that ever changed. It was inspirational to hear speakers from all over the world, from all different backgrounds express some of life’s secrets and share experiences they have lived and learned. It was relaxing to lie out on the lawn, with friends and music and (of course) food. It was absurd to stay up all night to finish that paper or to study for that test — and it was refreshing to know I wasn’t the only one. It was helpful to have people around who were ready to talk, laugh and debate the problems of the world. It was frustrating when I felt like someone just didn’t get it, but it was amazing when I, then, understood where that someone was coming from and we came to a mutual understanding.
Everything I have done and experienced makes it all worth it. Though there are still things I would like to see transformed in the Georgetown community, some things last. The demonstrations, the protests, the runs to the White House, the events, the late-night conversations, the students quietly and loudly creating change and the community of incredible, supportive people surrounding me has made my Georgetown experience unforgettable.
Diamond Graham is a senior in the School of Foreign Service and a DC Reads coordinator.
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