Facing Forward, Looking Back: Lessons From My Time at the Kroc School
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
begin quoteFrom fighting for minority rights, to building peace through sports, to advocating for change in Latin America, to reducing gang violence right here in San Diego, each of us is the entire ocean in a drop.
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
I’ve loved this quote by the poet Rumi for as long as I can remember, but I never truly understood nor appreciated it until I graduated from the Kroc School.
A drop in the ocean: Before I came to the Kroc School, I was bright-eyed and ready to make a change, but I had a lot to learn about effective peacebuilding. If taking Associate Professor Ami Carpenter’s Peace and Conflict Analysis and Associate Professor Dustin Sharp’s Human Rights and International Justice courses have taught me one thing, it is that this world is tumultuous, full of intense hardships that I will never understand in their entirety. Understanding the drive behind large-scale mass genocide or small-scale community conflict presents a psychological challenge that is inherent to being a student in the Kroc School — one that sparks many questions, first and foremost: What can I do? How can my actions make a positive difference?
The entire ocean in a drop: What I have learned in these past two years goes beyond pen and paper. I learned that what brought the end of years of genocide and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo all began with one person. One man — Edmund Dene Morel — spoke out against the slave labor and abuses that infiltrated the Congo during that time. It all began with one person: one. Brought face to face with evil, he didn’t turn away.
As graduates from the Kroc School, neither do we. From fighting for minority rights, to building peace through sports, to advocating for change in Latin America, to reducing gang violence right here in San Diego, each of us is rising to address the world's most intractable challenges. We are the entire ocean in a drop.
I am filled with pride as I think about the 19 of us that began this journey in August 2016. Very quickly, I realized the distinction between an undergraduate student workload and a graduate student workload. Before Dr. Sharp’s first “Human Rights Advocacy” course, we had 318 pages of reading. Yes—318. What makes these past two years great, however, is not just the important lessons learned inside the classroom, but the ones learned about outside the classroom as well.
Specifically, I learned to develop my character and be proud of my ideas. I learned to communicate clearly and concisely. I learned skills that will propel me in my career, no matter where I take it. Most importantly, however, I learned to rely on other people. My classmates and peers encouraged each other through good times and bad, hours of capstone writing, and constructive criticism that pushed us to become sharper, more focused, and more prepared.
Some of us are continuing to further our education with another master’s or a law degree. Some of us are implementing the skills and lessons we’ve learned back in our home countries. Some of us are tackling deep-rooted conflict on a communal, national and global level. Whatever we do next, I know that we couldn’t have done it without each other.
We are the entire ocean in a drop.
This post was contributed by Emilee Cutright '18 (MA). To follow in her footsteps and become a student of the Kroc School, take a look at our graduate programs: MA in Peace and Justice, MA in Social Innovation, MS in Conflict Management and Resolution.