A Settling, and an Unraveling

“9 months will really fly by,” they all said. I heard them, could rationalize the statement, but I didn’t take it that seriously. Now just weeks till graduation, I am humbly nodding to those wise mentors and alums that advised me to cherish this time. Though there are many pages still due, the bittersweet feeling that is so familiar when something special comes to a close, is washing over me.

I can sort my HGSE experience into two parts: first, a settling, then an unraveling.

When I arrived in the fall, I felt out of place. Harvard was an opportunity I ached for, yet once the door was finally opened I wasn’t so sure what to do after I crossed over. My eagerness to learn was tempered with anxiety about choosing the right classes and finding time to build community with peers and professors. I have a tendency to over-engineer projects and HGSE has been a critical, yet generous reminder that making room for discovery is important. No to-do list will suffice for this unique experience.

In 9 months the pages of my notebook have filled with Stata codes and probing questions around identity and resistance. Sketches of the world I hoped to live in have evolved as have the classmates, in and out of TIE, who have grown into family I deeply care about. Time, at first slow, has become a blur – the chatter in Gutman has quieted into the tense silence of finals and job applications. The frigid Boston winter has finally evaporated into the heavy summer humidity.

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My journey to this degree has involved my personal story surprisingly unfolding during DoubleTake, tender moments of laughter shared with strangers and comrades from the past over Sunday morning pancakes and margaritas at Felipe’s, painstakingly planning AOCC while juggling side gigs with local startups. My values and intentions, as an educator and not, have been caringly called into question.

I leave HGSE on edge, deeply puzzled and concerned about learning, power, technology, and more. I leave with stronger compassion for myself and new understanding of how to hold space with others, how to build and nurture relationships and conversations. I’m ecstatic to have landed a job where I can apply and continue expanding these learnings. Two weeks after graduation, I’ll be home in New York and start work as a Program Manager for the design strategy firm, SYPartners, which helps leaders, organizations, & individuals become fuller, more vibrant versions of themselves—so they can constantly transform & have impact in the world.

I’ve anticipated my return to NYC the entire semester, but I will deeply miss my time at HGSE and the lifelong friends I have made.

Blog post and photos provided by Andy Ng
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Andy Ng is an educator and designer originally from Sarasota, Florida. The son of modest Chinese immigrants, he knows firsthand how educational opportunity can change the arc of a young person’s life. His interests center on racial justice, learning spaces, and bringing others together.

Andy is a master’s candidate in the Technology, Innovation, and Education (TIE) program. He is a Gates Millennium Scholar, a Dalai Lama Fellow, and one of 14 Equity & Inclusion Fellows at HGSE.