Sunday, January 26, 2014

Academic Introspection

This blog may give readers the impression that the author is a full-of-it guy with too much time to mouth off arrogant opinions on the internet. Perhaps it’s true. Today I inflict my campus academic pursuits from three years ago upon readers.

Joseph, my high school best friend, spent lots of our time together telling me that I was “blunt”. In hindsight, it is strange that afterwards I successfully completed a degree in International Relations. The course involved a significant chunk of diplomacy and much training in how to navigate convoluted red tape, neither of which I am inclined towards. My term papers and exam scripts were tirades against glaring injustices in the international system. I strove to be that voice that challenged mainstream establishment propaganda on every issue from globalization to terrorism. I especially tried to give my International Political Economy lecturer a series of headaches by refusing to tread the beaten path, only making sure I had facts every time.

Somehow I tolerated the parts of the degree where they taught us about “diplomacy” and”national interests.” My naked eyes could plainly see: diplomats do not burden themselves with truly national interests as they fly halfway around the world in a million different directions to go and bootlick, posture, self-aggrandize, grovel, speechify. It struck me as fake and pretentious, a great circus that painted elite interests in patriotic livery. But I played along, role-played in enough model UN conferences to get disillusioned with the prospect of doing that stuff for a living day in day out. Faking niceness with people who are faking niceness for the sake of artificial national interests? Too remote.

During one of those particular model conferences, for which we dressed to kill, I and two comely young ladies – my aides – represented Eritrea. The wannabe US envoy struck me as a brazen Machiavellian with shark instincts, yet he was eventually voted the best delegate. The injustice of it gutted me; what happened to justice and equality and suchlike? That was the day I gave up on becoming a diplomat, even if I failed to immediately change my major.

But the course was not entirely pointless, no. Besides emerging with a bachelor’s degree, I learnt a bunch of stuff on the fringes of required course content. My eyes were opened, my horizons expanded as I searched for truth within the confines of the library. This is the saving grace that keeps me from looking back at those years with regret.


  1. The main thing is, your eyes were opened to see what sometimes might go on within a job. You learned so much during those years and it also helped to give you a good qualification that might open up a door of great opportunity one day.

    I say, keep being a voice, especially to help others who may not be able to help themselves.

  2. Thanks Rum-Punch Drunk. Possibilities ever exist. I'll keep in mind that burning bridges is a losing strategy. Thanks for commenting.


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