The Summer I Will Never Forget

by Waleed Ali Khan

dedicated to al those who made this summer special

When I transferred out of Cornell’s Premedical Program, I told a friend of mine that I would become much more involved in my community now that I had more freedom to explore other options. The friend looked at me, perplexed, and said “somehow I don’t see that happening.”This was completely understandable. Before this summer, I was a t.v. show addicted depressed person. I guess when you’re happier you feel like giving back to your surroundings. Despite the low days, such as being disappointed in myself for loosing my passport and missing a week of classes (ouch), I’m still grateful to God for this awesome summer, mostly because I met some of the most amazing people. Right from the Project Rwanda Team that has made very eager to spend a semester in Pittsburgh to the TEDxLahore Team that has made me proud of being a Pakistani, I have been inspired by the people I have interacted with.. Since the “Things I learnt from TEDxLahore” Post became my biggest hit yet, I’ll make this one a “Things I learnt from this Summer”

1. I have become much more comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.

Calling me an introvert around unfamiliar social settings would be an understatement. I remember the day I arrived at Rwanda I told myself “What was I thinking?” Not a single person I knew was with me. It stayed like this for a couple of days. But quite soon, I felt as much a part of the group as anyone else. The day I left was very sad, and I couldn’t thank the Team enough for this awesome experience.

Courtesy of Urna Biswas

2. It’s not what you do, It’s how you do it.

I didn’t do a high class corporate internship like most of my peers – and Thank God for that. The things I have learnt have developed me in so many ways, making me a better contributor to any organization Over this summer, I have been solely responsible for a sponsorship, was interviewed for a radio station, wrote dozens of articles, web content and blog posts. I also made extensive lessons plans, helped organize a trip and taught a group of 120 students.

3. Stop Complaining. Keep Trying.

When I took up that Calculus Course at FAST-NU, I completely forgot the subject. The last time I did calculus was in Cornell, three years back. I made a point not to complain but to just keep trying. I ignored the poor grades I received and the look of shock my professor gave as he realized I had forgotten simple differentiation. However, by the end of the course I scored the third highest in my class. And note that Math certainly doesn’t come naturally to me. Moral of the Story: You can succeed at anything if you stop being a whiner.

4. If you really want something, excuses are just excuses.

No disaster or world event has affected me like the floods in Pakistan. The emotions that accompanied this were overwhelming. It drove me to really go out there to help my community. I don’t earn money, so I can’t donate myself, but that would just be excuse for not helping out. With little thought about the details, I created a facebook events page, calling for a united effort for a fundraiser. Soon, student organizations, student groups and the entire EC community, who were already planning such an event, united for a common goal. This initiative, which is being led by a group of students, two organizations and all EC branch campuses, is slated to be the largest EC event to date. Being an introvert, making cold calls was something I never expected myself to do, but I made them, just because I knew I had to do something. In the end, excuses are just excuses.

5. I am grateful to student affairs

Rwanda would not have happened without Dave and Darbi. Pittsburgh would not have happened without Jill and Dave. My blog would not exist without Rachelle. I would be lost in between careers without Jumana and Rachelle. Saying I owe them would be an understatement.

Note to freshmen: Please make the best use of student support services at CMU – you’ll have a much more fruitful college career.

6. Losers will always be losers

By loser I mean the loser who loses things! But honestly, this is one area where I am very disappointed in myself. This summer alone, I lost a cell phone, an iPod, a wallet and my passport. It saddens me to say this but sometimes I feel like I can’t do anything about this. If you have any suggestions, please share them through your comments. And If you find any of the above items, call me!

7. Haters will always be Haters

I have seen a lot of hate, especially when it came to reactions to the floods in Pakistan. I was initially very depressed by people’s comments on news reports and discussions, where they said things like “They deserve it, please do not help them out”. There are so many of such comments around the internet. At the end, no rational argument with these people can be made. So I just realized that haters will always be haters and got over them.

8…. and Pessimists will always be pessimists

Those that said the country was doomed before the floods, did so more after the floods. Those that were hopeful said that countries have recovered from even worse times. I continue to be optimistic. Perhaps I am not being realistic, but I am sure a positive attitude by the citizens of Pakistan will do wonders for our country.