When I was in grad school, I had a refrain:
“Remember, remember, remember-don’t-forget,
Where you’re from, and where you want to get”
It took a while to adapt to the quieter routine of academic life. I missed the noise, the colour, the action. I missed the authenticity – the feeling of knowing about things that affected the lives of real people; of brainstorming as part of a core group, and feeling the thrill of coming up with possible solutions. Most of all, I missed the relationships – the feeling of being connected to children, teachers, parents, trainers and colleagues whose stories and experiences gave meaning to each day.
I went to school because I dreamed of changin’ the world.
There, I learnt much more, about frameworks and systems and theories of change. I took a step back to look at violence, disaster, crime and poverty – all things that are perhaps too familiar to the average Pakistani. And it was from that academic vantage point that I learnt how to feel very small, in a universe where so much is beyond individual control.
I try and remember where I’m from, although that too is no longer the same. But when I look at that simple old refrain, I wonder a little at the assertive tone. What does it mean, really, to believe in change in the world?