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The Citizen

Roses…and Fire: A Reflection on the Kennedy School experience

The following is a creative reflection written by Mihir Mankad, MC-MPA’13.

An Oasis…of intellectual stimulation and reinvention!

What is this amazingly resourced and dynamic world that we were thrust in?

As a student who came from the other end of the world, from a land of stark contrasts and intense poverty, the “gift” of an American education was indeed a dream come true.

Harvard University – the oldest in the country, the most storied…

….but could it also be enjoyable and impactful? I didn’t know…

Looking back, I don’t know if it was all fun, but surely stimulating.

“Stimulate” – To rouse to activity or heightened action.

Higher education is indeed a privilege in many of our countries. And resources are a small fraction of a typical American university’s. Departments, libraries, scholarships, internship budgets, research assistance, teaching fellowships …

The University. A campus. An institution.

We Didn’t Start This Fire…it was always burning since this world’s been turning.

[In melody]… Summer Seminar, Quorum Call, President Faust, Masquerade Ball,

Quant and Econ, Class Bids, Brian Mandell or Ron Heifetz

KNET, Widener Steps, J-Term, Study Treks,

From MPPs to MC-MPA’s,

Two generations together seizing each day

Collaboration and teamwork, debate and reform

Students from US & Canada, India and Pakistan,

Sheryl Sandberg, Au Sung Soo Kyi,

Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey

President Calderon at HKS,

Harvard winning in March Madness

So many events and brochures to file…

Why Dean Ellwood’s even going Gangnam Style!

And while the city of Boston is engulfed in Terror

The Kennedy School come together, make no error

We Didn’t Start The Fire…it was always burning since this world’s been turning

Stimulation all around…activity and heightened action all around

My journal is full.

So many options, so many memories!

… But what is this life…if full of care…we have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs…and stare as long as sheep or cows

And isn’t that the biggest challenge for our class? Career success is likely, but…

A poor life this, if full of care, we have no time, to stand and stare.

Has there been time to stop and smell the roses? Or is it to come going ahead? As we reflect at this important stage of our lives, what if we consider two things?

First, a celebration – we paid attention, met deadlines, prepared hard for exams, sacrificed sleep, stared at computer screens, lived in libraries, wrote papers, delivered presentations, caught only glimpses of the outside world, sacrificed leisure, sleep and time with family, while learning to persuade, communicate, negotiate, adaptively lead. We volunteered, searched, shared, helped, attempted …did!

We did! And no one can take that away from us. “Ask What You Can Do!” A degree from this institution implies action. Doing… And we Just Did It! For days, weeks, months, a whole year! And in the process, we refreshed and reinvented ourselves, to be even more effective change catalysts.

Congratulations class of 2013! It is our time to celebrate… feel elated…. stimulated…for doing in the midst of all this stimulation.

The second consideration is to stop and stare. At the world around us. At ourselves. To stop and smell the roses…as they are waiting to be smelled. To stop and stare…as life needs patience and discovering, even at this stage…our values, goals, career, direction, character…our impact.

As much still needs to happen in the world. And we are a privileged few…that have been part of an institution that offers so much stimulation. And that brings together people from around the world…to stimulate each other and learn together. To flame the fire that has been ignited.

We are a privileged few…and in the process of stopping and staring and celebrating….we can continue to “ask what we can do”…to find a beautiful horizon ahead.

To serve. Or create wealth. Or improve health. To stimulate in return, and out of gratitude.

Harvard Kennedy School. I see you now…more clearly than before…I see thy value…more clearly than before…as I stop and stare…and celebrate.

The ignited fire is flamed.

Congratulations Class of 2013!

Life just got exciting….and stimulating…now more than ever!