I belong here

My name is Josué. As I got to HGSE six months ago, I can say that I was constantly flooded with feelings of both illusion and anxiety. I remember coming here to the International Students’ Open House almost a year ago, and in a small group session, I asked my peers in the room if it was just me who felt like the dumbest person in the room and felt like someone had made a mistake in my admission. Being open about this started a dialogue that made it clear to me, that most people felt the same way as I did, and that the uncertainty of what would be expected of us, coming to the most impressive academic community in the world, was a burden we were struggling with.

When I finally moved here I continuously heard and saw the “you belong here” messages, but it was still very hard for me to feel that way. This feeling shifted after a few weeks. Dealing with the cultural shock of being surrounded by this very multicultural environment wasn’t always easy, and I started to think then, that yeah… sure, I had earned my right to be here, but I didn’t really “belong here” and never would, my culture would never be that of this place. These feelings of inadequacy kept changing throughout my first semester here.

Josue at HGSE4Help

Josué presenting at HGSE 4 Help in September 2017

Now, as I’m getting ready to start my second semester at HGSE, I can tell you that I now understand that “I belong here”, that Harvard is not really a place, but a community of people interested in making the world a better place through the generation and spreading of knowledge and ideas, and the preparation of those brave enough to face this world’s pressing challenges. To this community, I do belong, and so will you if you so choose to. Now my biggest concerns are how quickly time is flying by, and how fast my plans for the future will become a reality. I think of how to make the best of the remaining time here and how to best serve this wonderful community. 

Blog written by Josué Lavandeira, photo provided by Joshua Onyango

Josue photo Josué Lavandeira has undergrad studies in computer systems engineering, industrial engineering, and religious studies, he holds an MBA in Management and Leadership and he’s currently a Master of Education candidate in the International Education Policy program at HGSE, where he serves as this year’s Executive Chair in the HGSE Student Council and as the HGSE Voting Representative at the Harvard Graduate Council. He plans to return to Mexico, his country of origin, to continue working to improve public education.


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