I have been a student in Jesuit run education systems since I was fourteen years old and as I approach my graduation at Santa Clara University I believe the Jesuits have had a profound and deep impact upon my life and my vocation. At Santa Clara University, in an attempt to teach cura personalis, the education of the whole person, part of the core curriculum requires students to take a class focused on diversity. With my interest in film, I elected to take African American Independent Filmmakers. In it, I discovered Gil Scott-Heron and his iconic spoken word poem, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”
Watch Gil Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnJFhuOWgXg
A spoken word artist in the 70’s and 80’s Gil Scott-Heron focused a lot of his work on the civil rights movement and the oppression of African Americans. In “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, he berates those who witnessed the Civil Right Movement through the removed and comfortable lens of television: “You will not be able to stay home, brother. You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out. You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip, skip out for beer during commercials, because the revolution will not be televised.” The Global S ocial Benefit Fellowship placed me in Kolkata, India working with sister social enterprises Anudip and iMerit. The brilliant thing about India is how hard it is to plug in, turn on, and cop out. On any form of public transportation, you are touching at least two other people. On the way to the bus, metro, or train stop you have to walk through families living on the sidewalk, forcing you to recognize the stratification of wealth. There is a sort-of collective conscious of knowledge, pedestrians ask each other for all sorts of information, so there is no individual experience when you walk somewhere. Even the taxi drivers pull over to ask for directions. The streets are noisy, the sun is hot, the food is hotter, and you are always in danger of being in the middle of fantastically huge thunderstorm meaning you are always alert, awake, and aware. The long train rides with my co-workers spurred evocative conversations on life, dating, politics, the future, happiness, taboos and tattoos. Kolkata and India are alive, engaged, genuine, and passionate and that is how I want to live my life. I want to be engaged with my society, genuine in my interactions with others, and confident and consistent in my beliefs.
Melissa Bica, one of the other India Fellows, and I walking near our apartment
I did not hold these lofty goals upon applying to the Global Social Benefit Fellowship. I was more focused on the opportunity to go abroad and continue to work on my skills as a filmmaker. These goals were developed in the research and reading in the Spring and Fall classes and then enforced in my experiences in the field. The GSBF classes taught me about development and social enterprise, and the field experience taught me why it was important. Anudip and iMerit showed me what earning triple an average family income looks like, and how economic empowerment of women in conservative communities can change perspectives. Yet, everything I did within GSBF was highly structured. I had brilliant and exceptional mentors throughout the entire experience helping me both execute my plan and reflect upon my experiences. The next step is to take the education the Jesuits and GSBF gave me and continue to act upon it outside of the supportive academic system in what college seniors scarily term, ‘Real Life’.
An aerial shot of Metiabruz where Anudip and iMerit house of one of their biggest offices.
I believe my experience at Santa Clara University and with the Global Social Benefit Fellowship has equipped me as well as possible to enact my vocation, to be engaged with my society, genuine in my interactions with others, and confident and consistent in my beliefs. The next step is simple, acting upon those ideals working towards my goals and not plugging in, turning on and copping out.
“The revolution will be no re-run, brothers; The revolution will be live.”