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College Comment
After the Impact

I remember going to a Master’s tea freshman year that featured a famous journalist who offered his audience the following parting advice: “Keep up on world events and take the time to read what is going on outside of your campus gates.” He warned us of the danger of ignorance in the “college bubble.” His words have since been a source of guilt for me—guilt that I know more about my University’s administration than the American president's, and guilt that I have no idea where the last earthquake hit.

Other than the handful of us who keep the Washington Post as their home page, we students are completely cut off from the world in which we live. And in today’s global society, we have no excuse—we barely have to move a finger to get the news. But regardless, we choose to be uninformed. We read every word of a two-page article about Yale’s Tercentennial gala, but only skim a short one about the latest United Nations conference.


“Keep up on what is going on outside of your campus gates.”

We take in every bit of what Yale offers us—wonderful people, amazing professors, seemingly limitless resources, diverse opportunities, service to a city. We have plenty—too much, even—to take in at Yale, and only four fleeting years to do it.

The bubble was a grand place to be until three commercial jets crashed into the side of it and woke me from my peaceful slumber on September 11. I stared at images of a familiar skyline filled by gray smoke, and had only one question: “Why?” What could have happened since I stepped out of the world to make someone take such extreme action against my country? More questions were to follow as I realized that I knew so little about foreign affairs that I couldn’t make the least bit of sense out of the loss of thousands of New Yorkers. I envied classmates who could cite U.S. policy decisions as possible impetus for the attack. In fact, I envied anyone who knew who this Osama character was at all.

I longed for awareness and resolved to never lose hold of it so completely again. I saw that awareness not only allows us to comprehend, but also to empathize and let a distant catastrophe resonate in our own lives. It has been easy to be unaffected by news of a mudslide in El Salvador, but it will never be easy again. Not now that I have watched thousands of fellow citizens crushed in an instant; not now that I have come home to hysterical friends. We all, unfortunately, now have faces to put beside the numbers.

It is clear to all of us now that we have no magic shield around us, our country is not impervious to attacks, and we cannot, even if we try to, live in a bubble.  the end


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