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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion letters

LETTER: Take classes to expand your mind

For those who read my previous letter to the editor on Thanksgiving, I neglected to mention what I am thankful for. I am extremely thankful to be a student at IU receiving an education about the world. While I am focusing now on understanding the natural world in the pursuit of my dream to attend medical school and grow more amazed with the human body every day, I will never forget the knowledge about the social world my political science major afforded me.

I just completed the last necessary class and wish to persuade all fellow IU students to take advantage of classes that introduce them to an aspect of the world with which they are unfamiliar.

In the last two years I have taken International Comparative Politics, Middle East Politics, Eastern European Politics, Russian Foreign Policy, 4th Semester Urdu  — the native language of Pakistan — a senior seminar on Nuclear Weapons and International Strategy, Organic Chemistry 1, and General Physics 1. I graduated high school an unapologetic liberal with a narrow interest in learning and even entering American politics.

I told my parents, who are immigrants from Pakistan, that I was not interested in learning about my roots and did not want to learn my ancestral language. Having won a few awards in speech and debate — a fond high school memory — I was sure that law school was my calling. Science was something I saw as superfluous to my goals in life. Oh, how that all changed.

In International Comparative Politics I learned about the distinct democratic systems of Europe. In Middle East Politics, I was given an introduction to the sad Israel-Palestine conflict and a glimpse into how to overcome the obstacles. In Russian Foreign Policy, I learned an incredible amount about Russia, the Cold War, and the recent “assertive” trend of Putin which has lead him to be the Times Most Powerful Person.

Needing a language credit, I decided to capitalize on my decent working knowledge of Urdu (a language closely related to Hindi) and discovered a tradition of beautiful poetry in my ancestral tongue. In my senior seminar on nuclear strategy, I learned about the reasons why the lands of Pakistan and India (I have descent from both countries) have become such bitter enemies and why, contrary to the opinion of some international scholars, nuclear weapons have stabilized South Asia and actually prevented major conventional wars such as those of 1948, 1965 and 1971. In Organic Chemistry, I learned why a slight variation in the three-dimensional structure of a drug can convert it from being helpful to a deadly toxin — e.g. Thalidomide. In General Physics, I learned about the orbit of satellites, that in an elevator going down a scale would show that we have lost weight, and the rate of blood flow in capillaries can be calculated from the rate of flow through an artery.

Aside from developing an unusual interest in both science and politics, I learned my view of the law was naive. I have grown to view politics as useful to ensuring people’s rights but useless in improving the actual daily lives of people.

I see medicine as a life path that can give me the great honor of alleviating suffering on a daily basis. My initial learning toward liberalism was due to a desire to reduce poverty in America. I now know my ancestral countries of Pakistan and India need educated and sincere people to return and work to feed, house, educate and empower those who live in the abject poverty I referred to in my previous article. I came to college seeking to be a lawyer and a man of America. I now seek to combat disease as a physician and spend my later years helping the poor in Pakistan and India.

Without my academic experience at IU, I would never have attained these goals. I would be ignorant about the world and indifferent to the suffering of those in developing nations. I implore fellow students to realize that academics should never be boring. We should study what we enjoy. We must open our eyes to the world around us.

Rather than searching for a blow-off class to fill a requirement, I ask that you carefully search and find a class that teaches you about an aspect of the world to which you are ignorant. By doing so, you might even find a new purpose in life. If not, you will at least realize that we are not just citizens of America but human beings in a diverse and amazing world. 

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