Sunday, June 1, 2014

Where We Are & Where We've Been...

Appreciation, analysis and reflection are essential.

              Left to right: Radha Paudel, Ellen Garnett (Me), Nu Myat Theingi Oo, Miral Oman,
              Samah Mansur at the President John F. Kennedy Library
              Photo credit: Nu Myat Theingi Oo

Yesterday, our last day at Simmons College, the Delegates, Student Ambassadors, staff and speakers alike had the opportunity to visit the John F. Kennedy Museum, which was named after John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, near the University of Massachussetts, Boston.

We took a tour of the museum, which was absolutely incredible and really touching. The artifacts in the museum, such as the jewelery of firstlady Jackie Kennedy, some of which was given to her by foreign political officials, is especially interesting. The carvings and sculptures in the museum that were given to then President John F. Kennedy were also neat. Seeing these artifacts and knowing that President Kennedy actually came into contact with them made the experience all the more emotional.

As we toured the museum, we were going through the timeline of President Kennedy's life. Towards the end, there was a black room with the date November 22, 1963, the date of his assassination. There was a video of a television news station solemnly reporting the sad news, which really hit me. Although I was not alive during those days, I could feel the devastation that American citizens, especially President Kennedy's family must have felt, 51 years later. Losing someone is tragic but losing someone so suddenly by the hands of another is unfathomable.

Visiting the JFK Musem and seeing how interested the Delegates were in the museum made me recognize how important it is to reflect on our history as a nation. Often times, Americans don't stop to think about what happened just a few years ago. How are we supposed to make progress in the world if we are not educated in what happened in the past? How can we improve our nation without studying what past successful leaders like President JFK did and not so successful leaders like President Nixon?

As an American, I am not entirely proud of our history. As with any country, we have events in our history that are shameful. However, I am proud to be a citizen of a country that was founded on principles that should allow me the right to pursue happiness. The pursuit of happiness takes on many different shapes depending on the person. In America, I think this is a very important principle to instill in the minds of its citizens but I also think that experiencing other cultures by traveling to foreign countries is an essential part of pursuing happiness and understanding the world. (I promise I will not insert my Miss America Pageant speech for world peace here.)

Regardless, I had a good time at Simmons College with the Delegates, despite the few bumps here and there. Now, we begin at Smith College for the last "leg of our journey" as Erin O'Connor, our Simmons representative, often likes to say.