Sentiments and reflections as the semester ends

Brooke LakeI consider myself to be the sentimental type. A journal bearing, ticket stub saving, scrapbook making kind of woman. But when you have a life like mine, sometimes it is difficult to slow it down every so often to reflect on what was. I am busy: full time student, four jobs and two volunteer programs amidst maintaining relationships I find it increasingly challenging to even allot enough time for sleep each night. With it being the last week of classes I catch myself reminiscing on the good, the bad and the best.

One of the best decisions I made this past year was applying to be a cultural mentor for CSU. Before I was accepted into the program I noticed that my life lacked flavor. I mean that literally and figuratively.

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On any given day now you can find me learning how to cook Vietnamese food at the International House, swapping stories and smiles with my friends from India or relaxing over hookah with my Saudi friends. Even more, I have developed an understanding for cultures other than my own, and established friendships that will last a lifetime.

Participating as a cultural mentor has taught me more than just how to make delicious Pho and properly prepare hookah. My time spent volunteering for the Office of International Programs has turned into lifestyle. As an international and Arabic studies major I am able to take what I learn in the classroom and apply it to my international experiences, and vice versa.

History becomes relevant, geography is useful, political science proves to be necessary and writing is a vital tool when I take all facets of my life into account. The lifestyle manifested from my time working as a cultural mentor and has given me a terrific and distinct passion for what I am studying.

I love that I am a point of contact for friends who want to understand Islam, Middle Eastern politics and culture, or Arabic language. I have witnessed ethnocentric tendencies dissolve and stereotypes disband from simply sharing my experience and knowledge. In am in no way an expert, nor do I claim to be, but I think the reason I am sought after for advice regarding international affairs is because there is no doubt in the mind of those around me as to how I spend my time and what my passions include.

In short, I found my niche. I may be busy but I choose to fill my time, head and heart with people, books and experiences that will develop my character and expand my understanding of the world around me.

I encourage my readers to develop their passions and find ways to make it relatable to every aspect of life. Do you find your classes boring and irrelevant? Do you spend all your free time taking naps, and eating McDonalds while catching up on the latest season of Breaking Bad? If your answer to any of these questions is a resounding ‘yes’ then I implore you to set aside your comfort and volunteer. It does not have to be as a cultural mentor for CSU (even though I highly suggest it). Volunteer for a microbiology lab, a little league baseball team, Rocky Mountain National Park trail restoration and clean-up or even GBLQT community awareness and advocacy.

There are three simple facts about life I hold to be true: if you do not go after what you want, you will never have it, if you do not ask, the answer will always be no and if you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place.

Now is the time to be sentimental. After final exams are said and done and summer has finally arrived make sure to reflect on who you were, who you are and who you want to be. What decisions and experiences this past school year have bettered you? How can you build upon that growth? And who do you want to be in the coming year?

You have the ability to create a life filled with passion and worth living.

Editorial Assistant Brooke Lake is a senior international studies major. Her column appears every Monday in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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