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I am...

I am clay.

I am butterfly.

I am cream cheese full of honey and raisins.

I can be whatever metaphor I choose to affiliate myself with.

But truth be told, the physical and metaphysical fail to describe who we are.

A couple years ago, I had my first mock-interview where people whom I wanted to like me would ask me questions about myself and in the process decide whether they liked me enough to let me work for them. So the age-old question: who are you? Followed by a couple more almost as old questions: what makes you who you are? What do you live for? What would the people closest to you and those who are tangent to you (infinitely close but not quite there people) say about you?

As Duke students, we are always trying to create, recreate, define, redefine and polish who we are and want to be. We want to be trailblazers in this time of change and revolution.  We want to ignite passion and concern into the hearts of thousands around the world and inspire a greater movement for causes x, y and z.  We want to make a difference in the people around us with the words we speak, the actions we take and the choices we decide.  Or if not on that level, we want to show that we're different.  We want to distinguish ourselves mostly by our accomplishments.  "I made the Dean's list"; "I am the executive vice-something or other in three different organizations"; "I am overloading with five classes and playing club tennis"; "I shotgunned four beers and it was awesome."

Who are we? As Duke students are we content with the nametags that society and the people around us give us? Yes, we are a pretty smart school. Yes, we are the Cameron Crazies.  And yes, we do have the greatest basketball coach ever. But is that you? I'm not trying to say that there is something wrong with how we, as Duke Students, define ourselves.  However, I do feel that there is more to us than meets the eye.  There must be more to us than "Dean's list", "executive" and "beer".  We are multi-dimensional (key-word here) humans capable of more than just titles and epithets.

It might just be that our closest don't know the layerings and heartbeats of our lives and background because no one has asked.  Our resumes ask of our our accomplishments, not of our pitfalls and family stories.  However, those colorful edges are exactly what makes us who we are. We could not have reached our peak without having climbed the thousand steps leading up to it.

So, in our lifelong journey to not only discover ourselves and the world around us, but to also come into ourselves, let us take some time to salute in solemn reverence the hardships and excellent times that have made us who we are.

So cheers.  My name is Gloria Ahn, and I survived two awesomely, lonely and challenging months in middle-of-nowhere-bush Nkokonjeru, Uganda this summer.  I haven't told many of my friends that these two months have stretched me the most as a person in all the two month periods of my life, but I figured it was high time I did.

We may be awesome Duke students who overachieve and reach for more than the stars, but we're also humans too.


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