Two Days in Harvard 


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Photo: Malik Siraj Akbar

 

I spent my weekend at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. The Kennedy School of Government had organized a New Admit Day on April 4 while Harvard University arranged the One Harvard event on April 5 to provide the newly admitted students an opportunity to meet their future class fellows, the faculty, staff members and current students. 

It was the first time ever for me to visit Harvard University. It shattered two myths I had in my mind about the University.

First, I thought it was a school full of high achieving arrogant kids who would only be busy in completing assignments with no time to talk to their juniors. On the contrary, I found it to be the largest group of incredibly helpful, approachable and appreciative faculty and students.

At Harvard, besides competition among the students, there is, at the same time, a great focus on finding ways to help each other accomplish their professional goals. “Networking” appears to be the core focus of the University. In order to achieve that, there are dozens of centers in each school that organize hundreds of events each year to provide the students access to globally recognized speakers. Business cards are the school currency. I, flatteringly, ran out of business cards for the first time in my life! 

For a moment, I felt Harvard is a place where everyone is conspiring to contribute to the success of others. During two happy hours I attended last weekend, I met several people who grabbed my hand and said, “there is someone I think you should definitely meet and talk to about your work and passion. S/he can be a great resource for you.” This happened to all of us, again and again. 

Second, I had assumed that Harvard was a place where only the children of millionaires and incredibly wealthy people studied. I was wrong, again. During One Harvard, I heard moving stories of numerous students who were the first ones ever from their families to go to school. While one student said she was a cancer survivor, another said her immigrant parents had lived on food-stamps, did every imaginable job to send her to school. There were people who had seen extreme poverty and remarkable hardships in their native countries. Some lacked an outstanding academic background. Yet, all these people had one thing in common: The commitment to public service.

I met several accomplished professionals who were either award-winning scientists or war veterans. Most people shared their honest motivation behind going to School. They said there were scores of new skills needed to take one’s career to the next level and make this world a better place. Harvard is a place where everyone is willing to challenge and outshine themselves.

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