I have been in a funk like I can’t even tell you lately. The stress has been unbearable.
I, like many of you, am wrapping up my time here at Eastern Michigan University. If all goes as planned, I will be graduating in June and (crossing my fingers here) moving on to post-graduate studies elsewhere.
In case you don’t know, I’m a music major. Every major is difficult, but there are a few things unique to being a music major that makes it extra difficult. First, we have a lot of one credit classes that meet several times a week.
Second, we are required to attend concerts in order to graduate, which takes time away from our studies.
Finally, there is practicing.
In addition to taking nine classes for 15 credit hours and the normal workload associated with it, we have to find several hours every day to practice.
I’m not complaining, though. I get the privilege of going into a field where I will be paid to do exactly what I would do if I didn’t need money. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me.
On top of the normal rigors of being a student, I also have to try to get into a grad school. That means applications, essays, transcripts, checklists, and the mother of all stressors — the GRE.
It kind of makes me want to run away and hide for a few years.
This is all heaped on top of the financial stresses affecting so many of us and our families today. I’m smack-dab in the middle of a pressure cooker, sitting next to thousands of other pressure cookers.
Of course, my problems seem small in comparison to what’s going on in the world. Thousands killed in the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the ever-present threat of terrorism that we were so shockingly reminded of on Christmas day and unemployment reaching epic levels here.
It’s very discouraging to be a college student in America today.
I think of all those people in Haiti who have lost their homes and friends or family members to this horrifying natural disaster and my heart goes out to them. A little over a year ago, my home was destroyed by fire and I lost nearly everything I own.
It was a tough time for me and, in many ways, I still haven’t recovered. I know what it feels like to suffer such loss, and while everyone’s pain is different, everyone’s pain is their own. I feel a kinship for the people of Haiti.
I’ll be honest, there’s a little part of me that’s hurt, too. I read about the telethon to help victims in Haiti which raised $57 million. In the past, I’ve read about people stepping up in the face of calamities and coming to the aid of those around them.
And I’ve wondered why I never saw any of them when I needed them.
The reason, of course, is obvious: It’s because the tragedy of a Haiti or a Hurricane Katrina is so large and apparent, it ensures that the world knows about it. The devastation in Haiti over the past few weeks has been as profound to Haitians as 9/11 was to Americans, and the global outpouring of support equally inspiring.
What gets lost in the shuffle, though, are the little problems of the individuals. Is one Haitian family’s loss of a home due to earthquake any more or less devastating than one American family’s loss of a home due to fire? Does it really matter why it happened, or is it more important what happened?
I fully support the aid efforts in Haiti and it warms my heart to know that thousands of families who went through what I went through are getting the aid they need to get back on their feet. I encourage everyone to continue to give, even knowing how difficult it is in this economy.
But I would also encourage all of you to look a little closer to home, too.
Narrow your focus past the huge tragedies around the world and look at some of the smaller ones in your own backyard.
There are motivated people who can’t find jobs because there are no jobs out there to be had; there are people who have lost their homes, to foreclosures as well as fire; there are students who can’t even afford to apply to graduate schools because they don’t have enough money for application fees, transcripts or entrance exams.
There’s no way that we, as individuals, can put an end to all of these problems, but we can do something together. Contact your local Red Cross and ask how you can help. I’ll make it easy for you: The Washtenaw chapter’s number is 734-971-5300.
It doesn’t matter whether you donate $1 or $100 — every dollar helps.
I know it’s difficult to find the time, money and resources to get out there. We’re all busy, but we need to give what we’ve got whenever we can.
After all, you never know when you’ll be the person who needs a helping hand.
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