Making good use of waiting

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better know as Dr. Seuss (image courtesy of Illustrationfriday.com).

“Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.” – Dr. Seuss

I came to the realization, this past fall semester, that truer words have never described my life so accurately before. There had always been the moment in which I was waiting for some professor to post grades up on USF’s Blackboard site, or even just to reply to a simple email I’d sent her or him earlier that day. There had always been
times when I’d be waiting for the next Bull Runner (USF’s internal bus service) to pick me up, or maybe just waiting for the traffic on the Interstate to lessen while on my drive home from work. And as one of the most important people in my life lives over a thousand miles away from me, I had definitely spent a lot of time waiting for the next time that distance could be closed.

Everyone is just waiting, Dr. Seuss says. But what happens while we are waiting? The second realization I came across this past fall semester was that, in all that time I spent waiting, I wasn’t accomplishing anything. I wasn’t doing anything that would be beneficial to me (for instance, squeezing in a bit of studying for an upcoming exam), and I definitely wasn’t giving back to the community. Simply said, I was waiting – and only waiting. With this in mind, I made a New Year’s resolution: For each day in 2011, I was to make sure
I did at least one productive thing, so that even if my life was to be characterized by waiting, at least I will not have wasted any precious time in doing so.

Ten days into the new year, the Spring Semester commenced. I was registered for the Honors course “Major Works/Major Issues.” Initially, I had a different course section readied for registration; but upon hearing Dr. Kleine read off the course descriptions for the individual sections, a new course had caught my attention: “One pencil can help bring peace.” The powerful implication behind these words didn’t quite hit me that day, admittedly. My thought process went as follows: My first thought had been “Hey, social media is right down my alley, and since I use Facebook and Twitter so much already, this
would be perfect!” My second thought, still slightly self-centered, had been “Hey, wouldn’t taking this class help me fulfill my New Year’s resolution? If helping kids in Afghanistan didn’t count as being productive, then what did?”

 

Me packing school supplies for shipping with my classmates Kryssa and Kati during class on Jan. 24th, 2011.

But it wasn’t until I started the course’s assignments – reading Rex Temple’s blog of his last tour in Afghanistan and reading about Greg Mortenson’s efforts to build a school in a small city in remote Pakistan – when my thoughts stopped revolving around only “me.” I was  moved. At our second class meeting, where we readied our first supplies shipment, it had finally hit me: I didn’t need a justification for helping out with the school supplies drive. This doesn’t have to be the product of a requirement for graduation.

And hey. Somewhere out there, Afghan children are waiting, just like I am. Somewhere, these children are waiting for school supplies, waiting for the tools of a better education, for instruments of peace.

So I may have signed up for the course for the wrong reasons, and I may just be some university student who follows more strangers on Twitter than he has Facebook friends, but who says I won’t make an impact if I try my best and acquire the proper mindset? One more person to this cause may seem like it won’t make much of a difference – a mentality I’m sure most students would be faced with – but hey, I carry three pencils to class with me every day. And if just one pencil can help bring peace then, well … I’m sure you catch my drift.

LTC Sanchez hands out pens to Afghan children on a village mission in Afghanistan in the summer of 2009 (photo by SMSgt Temple).

 

 

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About Justin Doromal

I am a student at the University of South Florida majoring in Mathematics, with a side interest in educational improvement and pedagogy. I am literate in French, though not necessarily fluent, and in my free time I like indulging in Korean pop music culture.
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