Monday, September 8, 2008

Week One

The First Day (August 26)
During the first week of graduate school, I think that all fifteen of us began to realize a little more what we had gotten ourselves into. The first day on campus we were busy with our program from 9 until about 8. I got home at 8:30 with the task of reading two articles and being prepared to discuss them the next day. I felt like there should have been a banner hanging across my front door when I got home that said, “Welcome to your life as a grad student,” because there I was, after the first day, already feeling like school was taking over my life.

Meeting the Previous Students
The advice we received from the previous students consisted of sayings like:
• “The program is really, really hard. But don’t worry, it is very fulfilling.”
• “Don’t try to do all the assigned reading, because there is no way you will have enough time for it.”
• “If you read something and you don’t understand anything you just read, don’t worry, because it will happen to everyone.”
Their advice added to the realism of the first day, but a definite highlight was getting to see them present their capstone projects, the final project of the master’s degree. In a quick description, the capstone project consists of using the knowledge gained throughout the year to study a current situation. Many of the students were able to travel to do field research, which made the presentations much more thorough and interesting. It is a bit overwhelming to think I will be up on that stage presenting one year from now.

Our First Field Trip (to the border)
Another incredible highlight of the week was our class trip to the border and to Barrio Logan. As part of the Institute for Peace and Justice, there is a Trans-Border Institute, because border issues are quite probably the biggest justice issues in the county of San Diego. The director of the Trans-Border Institute, David Shirk, took us to Border State Park, where we were approached and initially hassled by a border patrol. I guess we looked a little suspicious because we had a huge white van with about twelve students pour out of it. Border State Park is an area that is located directly adjacent to the border. It’s a place where families come to reunite, even if a fence divides them. At this time, construction is underway to build another fence 150 feet north of the current fence, so that Border State Park will no longer be accessible. We were able to hear very different opinions about this topic, both from the border patrol and a person who works for the state parks. (Pictures courtesy of Jill Covert. On the left is the fence that goes into the ocean and David Shirk of the Trans-Border Institute).

Beach Bonfire and BBQ
On Thursday night, the School of Peace Studies and the recent graduates of the master’s program hosted a beach bonfire for us. We each had to bring something that exemplified humanity to us and share it. It was a beautiful night that made me really glad I get to spend the next year learning from fourteen incredible peers. (Photos courtesy of Jill Covert).

Volunteer Opportunities in San Diego
The School of Peace Studies introduced us to a lot of people throughout the first week that are doing great things in the areas of peace and justice in San Diego. The school pretended like we will have time to volunteer, despite suggestions from the previous students that it will be a year of exhaustion (but not to worry, good exhaustion). I will post a little later about what some of these opportunities are for anyone interested in volunteering, supporting an organization, or just signing up to receive a newsletter to learn more about peace and justice issues and the people working in the trenches.


  1. Wow. This program sounds pretty awesome. However I don't envy the work load.

    I'm definitely going to hit up some of those events with you, when I can.
    I'm wondering, what did you bring to represent humanity?

  2. Brooke,
    I think this is great of you to do! I am so grateful to be included in a program like this and with the likes of you and our fellow classmates. I'll have to remember to check in with your blog every once in a while!! See ya later, Cassidy

  3. Thanks for the comments Greg and Cassidy. It's nice to know someone is reading this and maybe enjoying it!

    Greg, I definitely think this should be one of the schools you apply to next year, just to keep your options open! And good question, I'll answer it in a post.

    Cassidy, I am glad to be in the program with you too!