“I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways”

 This blog post’s title comes from Michael Jackson’s famous song, “Man in the Mirror”, which is one of my favorite songs.  But this song has rather been frustrating to listen to lately.  Instead of I myself feeling compelled to bring any changes, I feel like I am constantly challenged and asked by others to bring change.

Now that there are two weeks left, I’ve been frequently asked, “What are you going to bring back to Duke? How have you changed?”  I don’t blame people for asking me that question because the expectation to mature and change through the Duke Engage experience makes sense to me.  Nonetheless, I personally have been trying to avoid those questions because I am still in the process of figuring out the answers to the questions.

I was asked those questions today. I answered that I definitely have changed in terms of my awareness and depth of understanding about the immigration and human rights issues.  And I am grateful to have gained such new perspectives on the issue.  At the same time, I answered that I honestly have not thought and do not want to think at the moment about what I will bring back to Duke because I am exhausted.  I am tired of discussing or debating about politics or whatever.  I am frustrated at the recurring vicious cycle where people only argue without trying to understand the others’ point of view and compromise.  I am fed up with being asked what my opinion is to different political issues.  I honestly want to return home, relax, and take a short break from wrestling with political questions and reflecting on how to make the world a better place.

In return, I was told that I am a privileged U.S. citizen with power more than many others to bring change to this society.  I was told that powerful and privileged people like me must not stop seeking to bring changes and must keep in mind that there are people who are less privileged than I am.  I absolutely agree. I am blessed with so many privileges and I am thankful.  However, I was triggered once again with the expectation that I am obliged to bring change once I return to Duke.

Like Michael Jackson’s song “Man in the Mirror” states, I think effective change happens when one is compelled to do so.  What if I am not ready to bring change? What if my heart doesn’t call me to do so at the very moment?  I feel like I’m always caught in the middle ground because often times I have no strong opinion on many matters.  Being a third culture kid and understanding multiple cultures, I am blessed with the ability to understand and consider multiple points of views.  At the same time, it’s frustrating that I don’t have a strong stance on many matters.  But do I really need a strong opinion on every matter?

Change. I agree that I am privileged and have the potential to do so. Duke. U.S. citizenship. International background. These truly are privileges. Nonetheless, you cannot urge someone to bring change.  True change happens when one stares with the person in the mirror and asks himself/herself to change his/her ways.

I am confident and I know that the Duke Engage Tucson experience has matured and changed me. I want to bring changes and improvements to this society.  But at this very moment, I need a break.  I want some time to absorb all the enrichment I have experienced this past two months and then think of what comes next.


One thought on ““I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways”

  1. We all reach a saturation (or over-saturation) point at some time! We are in a society that wants quick action and tends to see things in black and white and therefore I agree that sometimes “change” is oversimplified. Personal growth is a process and transformations happen at many stages of the journey! I look forward to checking in with you when you are back on campus and have had a little down time! Enjoy the remaining few weeks before the fall semester! Joan


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