The Top of The Mountain

The Top of The Mountain

 

I grew up learning daily from my parents, relatives, and elders from my community about our values of caring, respecting, reciprocity, solidarity, giving a hand and support to others, greeting people properly, and caring and preserving the Mother Earth.

I have lived following and practicing all these values during all my life. There are times that you are asked by the elders to pursue new knowledge with the goal to serve people efficiently. One way to achieve this goal was to get a doctoral degree in the United States. I came to this country with opposite feelings, in one hand I was sad for leaving my hometown and on the other hand I did not know what to expect in the new place of my studies.

I was told by my elders that this new path abroad will be full of positive and negative things, both would work in shaping my personality and giving me more strength and capacity to go ahead with my personal and collective plans. They told me that I would have to walk over stones  of different dimensions, that sometimes I will feel weak and those will be the times for me to stop, cry if necessary, and pray will all my hearth and faith. As a woman warrior, I must walk my own road and leave it open for those who are coming behind me or are following my example.

3.png

As a human mirror for my people I have to practice every day these precious teachings. One of my memories as doctoral student that encouraged me to be the best student and a best person with a good heart and feelings in spite of the obstacles and limitations relates to when I was told that University students required certain material things such as a car, a house and new clothes and good physical appearance, that the University is like a club where only certain people could enter. My heart was sad. I was confused. For me it was difficult to understand such messages since I grew up seeing each human being as a brother or sister. That day I decided to over-read the books, to write the most meaningful papers for the benefit of my people and just to advance my studies with courage and great good will.

I did remember one of the sayings of my elders on how the water, with her kindness, breaks even the most robust rock. And so instead of replying angrily to any offense about the color of my skin, my intelligence, my long hair, the accent in my English, I decided to teach people in this country the meaning of living in community and the satisfaction that comes from helping students in need. At the University, as community members, we cooked for international students, we looked for their integral wellbeing, and together achieved the goals of this international exchange. The visit of this group united all of us, the coordinator, instructor, teachers, the local church, wealthy families, departments from the university, friends and people who wanted to contribute in this educational effort. This small activity reactivated human values, it gave us the opportunity to know each other’s resources and skills and support these visitors. I remember one of the staff of medium age saying to me that she use to cook for friends and relatives when she was a girl, and it had passed a long time and she forgot to do it… “We became individualists, we do not care anymore for the others, we do not even know who our neighbors are, we just think in me, me, me, and in our families at the most….and now I am re-learning how to cook and serve other people…I have encountered feelings in doing this…as the days pass I feel content and useful…we should not be selfish …thank you so much for teaching us here at the University how to be a good human being…you will be in the heart of this community forever.” This humanitarian learning and teaching was done in a frame of mutual respect and understanding and it is still in practice.

My staying in this country was not full of roses, however my deep cultural roots and firm decision took me to “the top of the mountain” through curves, deep waters and heavy stones…I defended my thesis accompanied by many people from different countries and from this country who came to be with me in recognition of all my work done within these years, a work that mostly deals with values and love… I have my doctoral degree, I accomplished the mandate of my elders with tears, with laughs, with courage and love. I faced all the challenges to honor my ancestors, my elders, my parents, my community, and my family. Each one of us has the heart and capacity to be a successful person, we just need an opportunity and respect.

Moving to a new place implies challenges, unknown facts, surprises, meeting people with good values and principles… if you decide it could bring personal and collective benefits. The interaction with people from over the world gives you a unique life experience and knowledge that any university is ready to teach you.

Right now, I am looking from the top of the mountain all the paths that I walked for being doctor, the first one in my community. I am remembering my past and new friends, my fears and my hopes. I have to say that everything is possible to be done in any place when you love and respect others and when you walk all roads of your life with confidence and hope. A truly resilient warrior was reshaped in this country. I am thankful to the Creator and my elders for this special time.

 Watercolors by Margarita. Top photo by Brady Bellini

The music of Nishi Rajan

The music of Nishi Rajan

We Are Rice and Beans

We Are Rice and Beans