Stories, Glories, and Memories – TheNextNorm

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Sibani Ram

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” — Unknown

Amigos whom I adore & admire.

Despite being a quote (and alliteration) aficionado, I don’t start with quotes, but I broke the my rule today — to do what feels right, even if it feels cliché. Little did I know that I would spend most of my senior year summer in a foreign country — away from family, away from the consistency I’d inhaled for almost two decades. But little did I know that I could understand the definition of contrast like never before: being assertive yet affectionate.

  • Stories substantiate sincerity: no matter how daunting the language barrier or how much you’re at a loss for words, a story CAN and WILL resonate with any audience. As long as you have to determination to convey it, the story will speak volumes — whether you can or not. I experienced this firsthand, often spending fieldwork days of data collection in a two-way street of stories. Stories allowed me to push past communication barriers to bring memories to life when reality was challenging. They allowed me to find an international family among friends. I saw this come to life when I met Karen, Mary-Clare, and innumerable other companions who blew energy into my time at EARTH.

Picture with Marcela Munoz, Chilean dancer by training turned scientist & researcher

  • Culture carves compassion: The best way to breathe empathy is to force yourself to live it. From the meal plate to the magnetic conversations, culture teaches an open-mindedness that I crave to emulate. Here at EARTH, I was fortunate enough to meet students from Malawi, Rwanda, Ecuador, Chile, and Jamaica, among so many other places. I found solace in their cultural cling, the beloved charm they carried with them amidst an undergraduate career in a foreign country. The spirit of their cultural love spoke to me — I depended on Indian music to lull me to sleep at night and wake me up for the next day’s work. The cultural compassion I imbibed from EARTH showed me that I NEED to spread my wings, but NEVER let go of my roots.

My library buddy, Raul, who’s quite the little story teller and student:)

  • Grind births Glory: Key word births. Agriculture is far underappreciated for the impact it has on the lives of people. Early on in my Costa Rican adventure, I read an article that elaborated beautifully on this aspect in Ghana.(https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/27/world/africa/farming-millennials.html_. tireless). The efforts of farmers in their innovation has an unparalleled impact on millions of communities. Whether this is a six-hour fieldwork day or lab graduation projects lasting years, spotlight on agriculture and its application is critical to changing the world by changing one person’s world. A country must have incredible healthcare and technology, but it must also be able to feed all its people. At EARTH, the students and faculty yearn to learn community centric change rather than career climb. While this grind births glorious change, the minds & hearts behind the grind live to feed others — physically and emotionally.

With Sofia Montero Vargas, my Amma(mother in my native language, Tamil) away from home.

When travelling here this summer, I was anxious about escaping the life of
certainty that defined my time at home. But as I sit here writing this on the eve of my return, I’m thankful for the stories of love and loss that I imbibed here. They showed me that I CANNOT and SHOULD NOT flee from struggle in life.

Te amo, Costa Rica.

My favorite EARTH campus painting — this captures the emotional evolution of my experiences here(the ultimate stories, glories, and memories).

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