Major vocations, careers, and life callings are antecedents of a secondary or inconsequential, but illuminating moment in one’s existence. If I could express this concept more thoroughly, I would say it is similar to attending a well-organized Nutcracker performance, based on the 1891 production by Tchaikovsky, and imagining yourself as a ballerina/ballerino; and assessing the complexities (I have no plans in this vocation, by the way). For me, Diversity and Explorations (DivEx) served that, and more. At DivEx I envisioned my role at Harvard Divinity, made relationships, and critically observed Harvard Divinity. Along with all the free goodies that went with being a participant, DivEx served as an enlightening moment for my subsequent decision, and my life at HDS now.
My previous undergraduate experience was great, but uniformed; therefore I had an assumption of what I would be like there in undergraduate. HDS, however, was quite different. My DivEx experience exposed me to a diverse group of people, which made the experience lively. We had people from the Buddhist community, Gay community, Islamic community, Christian community, and many other faith traditions. They all had something to offer, but for me it gave me a depiction of what HDS had to offer. Honestly, that is what intrigued me the most. How can a school manage to house all these different groups of people and facilitate health-conducive faith? This question received its answer more and more through my DivEx experience and, now, through my attendance at HDS. My general answer, which might be different than most, is: students at HDS are rethinking what it means to be a neighbor, and how to serve the world through their faith perspectives.
Many of these faith perspectives I encountered while at DivEx. The different people that I have met helped me see the world in a different fashion than what I grew accustomed to, and this type of reshaping is valuable. It formulated for me an antagonistic approach to my own perspective and made me also more sensitive to mine and others’ perspective. Now, most of the DivExers that I met in November are helping me reconfigure my worldview.
Is Harvard a panacea, utopian, or perfect world?: no! If I attested to that ideology, I would be not better than a sloppy ad-commercial. HDS has problems as well; and if you are any type of skeptic as I, you will carry many preconceptions on your visit.
On my visit, I critiqued until I could not critique anymore. I wanted to figure out: could HDS fit for me? What are the problems? And, does the web portrayal of HDS match the existential reality? All these questions did not get answered at DivEx; in fact, I still ask that now. However, it started the process of wonder, and kept me curious enough to apply and carry my studies to a great school.
My DivEx experience foreshadowed half of what my experience is now at HDS. It was a teaser and a demystifying experience. It opened me up to what studying in a pluralistic environment would be like, but it also made me say, “Everyone at Harvard is not high and mightier than thou.” This place is filled with normal people who want to re-interpret their world and the divine.