It is difficult to figure out how to start blogging about the enormous experience that characterizes a master’s student’s life at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). It has only been two months since I have started at HGSE, but I feel like I have had the opportunity to fit a great deal of academic, extracurricular, and life events into such a short time.
There is the overwhelming fact that classes here are really awesome! One can easily become overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of academic opportunities that exist here. AND that’s not it! There are so many extracurricular activities here too. Keeping in mind that I can’t do it all, I chose my classes so that I could balance both my academic and extracurricular interests.
Attending Diversity Dialogues and Candid Conversations through the Office of Student Affairs, going on school sponsored field trips to Cape Cod and Salem, learning about Boston through the Black Heritage Walking Tour, going camping with friends, watching the Regatta, and just exploring the Boston has been an experience in itself.
Making time to have extracurricular experiences is one of the best choices I have made thus far. I personally don’t believe learning is complete unless one has the opportunity to truly engage in dialogue and be exposed to new ideas from the environment around oneself. I have tried to be open to these influences and let them shape my ideas on education.
Really engaging with the HGSE’s idea of “Fulfilling the Promise of Diversity” has also been something I have tried to take seriously. Whether it was Dr. Ali Asani talking about the importance of promoting religious literacy within our communities, or digging deeper into ideas about privilege with Prof. Karen Mapp or Dr. Deborah Jewell-Sherman, I realized that I need to think more about how multifaceted and complex the seemingly monolithic word “diversity” can mean.
Attending the Diversity Dialogue series by Dr. Pamela Mason was particularly powerful for me. While we as a community talk a great deal about diversity, we have to ask ourselves how can we as students truly promote diversity and encourage faculty to help us understand diversity in the context of our lives?
One of the ways in which HGSE has tried to grapple with issues of diversity and privilege was through the HGSE Campaign Kickoff. Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, spoke about our privilege as HGSE students and how we can reach deeper within ourselves to effect our community! I hope to continue with such other mind-opening experiences in the months to come!
Irteza Binte-Farid is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management program. Having worked for QuestBridge, an education non-profit which matches low-income, first generation students to great colleges within the US, Irteza continues to be interested in the experience of first generation students in college. In the future, she is excited to enter the field of Higher Education Policy.