As a senior, it would have been really easy to justify doing the bare minimum this semester. I’ve worked hard for four years, don’t I deserve to take Golf, Human Sexuality, or Self Defense? However, when I saw this class I knew this is what I needed to do with my last semester. If there is anything I’ve learned from JMU, it’s that life is truly gratifying when you are taking all it has to offer.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to take experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
I see this class as an opportunity to use my time at JMU, and my life, to the fullest. It gives me the opportunity to explore new cultures, perspectives, and ways of thinking. It is a chance to experience more of the world, and to open my eyes and my mind to life beyond suburban America. After all, what greater purpose is there for education than to become more enlightened and aware?
Now all of this sounds beautiful, and it is, but let’s also acknowledge the elephant in the blog. It’s a class on genocide—a morbid, dark, and overwhelming topic. The subject itself makes for an automatically challenging class. But as I’m learning, this is the very reason this class needs to exist. By being in this class I am confronting the evils that allow genocide to exist—discursive complexity, blind eyes, and carefully construed language. I am talking about it with others, and encouraging more people to think about it on a deeper level than just that movie they saw once or the book they read in middle school. After just one class discussion, I am already thinking of genocide a little differently, such as speaking of genocide in terms of action and agent, not location. That was just one person changed by one discussion, think of the kinds of change this class can create by taking it beyond the walls of the classroom.
But like I said, this is a challenge. I know I will have to experience a lot of personal growth to become mentally and emotionally strong enough for such a heavy topic. I will to have to allow my optimism and faith to be tested so that I can experience paradigm shifts in myself and encourage them in others. I have to confront all of these obstacles within myself so that I can begin to overcome the many that keep us from eliminating genocide. It is an amazing opportunity.
It wasn’t easy to do the bare minimum when I saw the opportunity to make a difference. As a senior at JMU, I don’t know how to take a backseat. I want to be the change. So with my last semester, I am tackling my own misconceptions and becoming more informed so that I can help make the discussion on genocide louder.