Last semester, when I created my schedule for the new year, I had no idea what I was getting into when I signed up for my Major Works Major Issues Honors Class. I saw the course title “Social Media, Social Change” and my immediate thoughts were, “Oh good, this will be a nice break from science classes”. Needless to say, I had no idea what I was getting into. Based solely on the title of the course, I assumed this class would be an exercise in analysis of the media and how it affects societal change. I came into the course expecting to write papers, read articles, and participate in a lively discussion with my peers. I expected to learn about society, but I had no idea that I would be learning the skills to become an effective leader possessing all the tools to affect change and bring hope to others.
Winter break came to a close and the day arises for introduction to “Social Media, Social Change”. I was fully prepared for a formal lecture. Our professor, Liisa Hyvarinen Temple entered the room and begins to explain the goals and objectives for the semester. Her tone was informal, conversational, and very personal. The sharp juxtaposition to the stuffy, impersonal academia of my typical coursework was my first indication that this class would be like no other class I’d ever experienced. When she finally divulged that the purpose of the class was for us, the students, to become the leaders and that it would be our responsibility to take over this organization, excitement began to take hold. How was it that our honors class was to be given such a great and exciting responsibility?
I was captivated by our discussion of what life was like for typical school children in Afghanistan. Ms. Temple described her husband’s experiences in the military and the absolute elation with which the children received items as simple as paper. It occurred to me how truly lucky I am for having the resources to attend university and all the supplies I need to be able to attain the empowering thing that is education. Education is absolutely the best way for an individual to work their way out of poverty and gain some semblance of control in their life. Knowledge truly is power and these Afghan children had a voracious appetite for the opportunity to learn. Hearing these anecdotes of the lives that had been changed by the gift of school supplies truly inspired me to want to devote myself to furthering the goals of this organization.
My work in this course is still in its infancy, but my peers and I have already worked to pack 18 boxes to ship off to these children. We have developed plans already to place boxes in new locations and to spread the word about this organization so that others may join the efforts to make learning possible for others. Check out our Facebook page: Afghanistan My Last Tour. We have a lot of plans for this upcoming semester and I am very enthusiastic about our prospects for ways to further our cause.