Who? What? Where? Why?

Yani Alexander - Ecuador


July 22, 2013

School isn’t the real world. It’s artificial. Half the information you learn you will never use or will forget. That’s what people say, and they may be right. I just want a chance to try to use the other half.

In high school I learned about how histories of oppression, hatred, war, genocide and slavery have created the social inequities and injustices that permeate current society. I took a class called Power and Participation which taught me about the United States political system and how to work with it—and sometimes against it—to create change and empower others to do the same. I was taught how to express myself articulately and thoughtfully through writing and speech. I led one club and participated in another that discussed the concepts of diversity, privilege and cycles of oppression. I got to take classes like Existentialism and Buddhism which dealt with the question of how to live one’s life.

Everything I have learned has taught me about gaining perspective, leaving my comfort zone, and taking action. In some ways, I believe I have done that, but in many ways I haven’t.

Part of the reason I have not fully acted on all of my beliefs is simply because I have more knowledge than I do experiences. I am not an outgoing, social, get-things-done, type-A sort of person. In the past I would let things happen to me rather than make things happen. More recently I have tried to be an active participant in my life rather than a passive one, but I am still testing the waters.

I have also lived in San Francisco my entire life. I have gone to private school, lived in a safe neighborhood, and have grown up in a caring household. I love my school, my home, this city, and am deeply grateful for all the opportunities I have had. But I also know that so far I have only gotten a tiny glimpse of life in “the real world.” Before I go to college I want to apply what I have learned and see another snapshot of the world.

Hopefully while I am away, in Ecuador, I will get a better sense of the world, life, and how to put my knowledge to good use. Maybe I will make a meaningful impact on someone’s or a community’s life. Maybe I will finally know what it is I want to do with my own. Maybe neither of those things will happen. Hopefully I can be of some help during my stay, but at the very least I hope I can remember half of what I learned in Spanish class.

Yani Alexander