June 16, 2012 - 8:42 PM
Well, friends and readers, this is it: the final blog.
It's been quite the run. Tomorrow I graduate with a Masters of Arts in Conflict and Dispute Resolution, to be added to my previous UO Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Comparative Literature. I arrived in Eugene for the first time seven years ago, an almost-senior in high school, searching for a college experience. Six years ago I was already counting down to my first day at the UO. Five years ago I was tortured by my first college farewell: moving out of the dorms and back to Colorado for a summer. Four years ago I was finishing my study abroad in Valdivia, Chile. Three years ago I was preparing for a fabulous summer in Eugene, working with Inside-Out and developing my undergraduate thesis plans. Two years ago I was preparing my undergraduate commencement address and then closing that college experience. Last year I was getting ready for my fieldwork and research in Honduras.
It's been an extraordinary time.
I began blogging the fall after I returned from Chile. I remember agonizing over that first entry, knowing it would stand for the duration of my UO blogging career. Now a blog is second-nature to me: it is a way of adding meaning to my weeks, and to marking the important events of my life. But this last blog is a bit of a challenge: it is the final record of my University years. I've written well over a hundred blogs, and this one is the last.
So allow me to indulge myself a bit, and go over these last few years.
I am leaving the UO knowing that I have made a difference here. If you have followed my blog, you have tracked my start as an Inside-Out intern, and how that developed into my work as a Graduate Teaching Fellow, a member of the Oregon State Penitentiary Think Tank, the editor of the first Inside-Out Magazine, a founder of the Serbu Book Club and Youth Re-Entry Project, and as a creator of a now-flourishing Inside-Out alumni student group. If you have read me over the years, you know that I arrived at a crucial moment for Inside-Out, and I grabbed the opportunity and made some exciting things happen.
You have also followed me through my work in immigration issues, beginning with Volunteers in Medicine and progressing through my trips with No More Deaths to the Arizona border, and in working with local activist groups and in research/internship trips in Central America. You have seen this develop as an academic interest and as a focal point for my social justice interests.
In these years of blogging, I've shared what it has meant to be a UO student, from coursework to thesis writing. I have shared my experiences with faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduates. You have watched as I've come into my own as a member of this campus community, and with the work I've done in Eugene at large.
On that note, I know I am graduating with the well-wishes of so many wonderful people. I am leaving with the blessing of Sister Helen Prejean, a dozen fabulous professors, the men I know at the prison, the students I've served as GTF, the student and community organizations I've taken part in, and the many people who have become my friends in these years.
Soon I am leaving in pursuit of this next phase of my life. It begins with travel throughout Europe (Prague, Turkey, Spain, Morocco, Portugal, Amsterdam, Scotland...?), and then will resolve into a year studying International Human Rights Law through Queen's University in Belfast. I will have both adventure and a chance to continue my career and my passions in this new setting.
I guess I should wrap up this blog. I want to end with some kind of snappy words of wisdom, or an invitation to a certain understanding of these years. But the truth is that I am here, sitting in my nearly-empty apartment on the eve of my graduation, and feeling a sense of quiet satisfaction. I don't have any grand words. I just feel that I have accomplished far beyond what I set out to do: I came to the University, I loved my years here, and I know I am leaving a fair chunk of influence and inspiration behind.
So on that note, friends and readers, I'm going to take my leave. Thank you for your presence over these years. I hope you've found my words worthwhile.
This, along with so many other things, has led me to who I am today. Watch me launch.
"Tell me, what is it that you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"
from "The Summer Day"