This really is an emotional outburst, one rooted in joy. I have been meaning to write a new blog about my experiences at Havard Kennedy School for a long time, and will probably get to it soon. But this demanded urgent attention and so I am including this post in my general blog to be able to write it immediately.
As part of Spring Exercise, the culmination of my first year in the Masters in Public Policy program, I had the opportunity today to ask a very pertinent question to a very expert panel on sex trafficking. Without going into the details of the question, I would like to describe here something that truly touched me.
Unfortunately, for some reasons beyond my control, one of the experts on the panel was unable to understand my question and made it clear in a not very respectful or friendly way. I didn't care much of course; intimidation does not affect me and I genuinely believe in the good of people, so I just repeated my question as many times as was needed for him to understand and respond. I bear no ill will to him or anyone else on the panel, it was just an unfortunate situation. But I did return sad that I was unable to convey the whole question and therefore failed to get a more comprehensive answer.
When I got back, I checked my email to see a mail from my friend Christina, "I understood you perfectly ... the guy was kind of an a**." Later, Mark said, "he was a jerk, you were clear", Josh said,"I could hear you perfectly fine", and Michelle said, "that guy was rude to you." Sometime later I had a rather angry text from Subhash that read, "you could have just said f*** you".
But the point of this story is not to be angry at the panelist for behaving the way he did, but to highlight how touched I was by my friends reacting this way. A couple of months into Kennedy School, I had started questioning if the people I considered friends felt the same way, and if I truly was part of a community here. And so, this response from my friends, who I now know think of me as a friend as well, really touched me and almost brought me to tears of joy.
Actually, I am rather grateful to the panelist for doing what he did; he helped me find an answer to a much bigger and personally important question: do I belong? And the answer is clear and simple: Yes, I do!