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The Scarlet & Black

As Told by Aminata: Engaging with the World Inside and Outside the Classroom

I truly love my Grinnell experience. More than anything, I am grateful for the development in the way I think. I am able to look back and see growth in the way I see and interpret things, and there are few things in life that are better than that. I am able to be content and appreciative because many people on and off campus have taught me how to make the most of the opportunities that have been offered to me and how to always be intellectually hungry and evolve, as I constantly learn more about myself and the world around me. 

The words above are necessary because they reveal who I am and why I think the way I do. I think it is important for Grinnellians to use what they learn in class in their everyday lives to be global citizens. Being a global citizen is not about travel, it is about being aware of what is going on around the world in different domains, caring about people, events and issues that are far away from one’s immediate experiences. Grinnellians pride themselves on being liberals but what does that even mean? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “liberal” signifies one’s “willingness to accept behavior or opinions different from one’s own as well as being open to new ideas.” If Grinnell students are truly as liberal as they claim to be, then I believe that they must engage more with the world that we live in. Be passionate about global ideas, look for connections between experiences, histories and countries even when they are not obvious. I think anybody who has spent more than five minutes talking to me will agree that there are a lot of things that I am constantly questioning and thinking about. I think the ability and opportunity I have as a student now to evaluate situations and learn from them is time I will never have again. 

I do not want to generalize and before I say anything else, I want to acknowledge that I appreciate being around wonderful intelligent students here at Grinnell, but Grinnellians need to take advantage of the resources available to them, which includes participating in academic conversations outside of the classroom. It is important to be curious and engaged. Students need to want to learn about things outside of their comfort zone. It is in my desire to see the student body more engaged with international affairs that I bring to you in my bi-weekly column, “As Told by Aminata: The Euro-Africana Sphere.” I want us to be able to talk and learn from one another in our efforts to understand the changes taking place globally. In this column, I will be discussing more than what are the biggest headlines. I will be reflecting on issues that many of you will be surprised to learn affect us more directly than we would like to think. Topics I will be examining include the recent meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and his Ivorian counterpart, Alassane Ouattara on the CFA franc zone, the election of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as director of the World Health Organization and the legacy of Pan Africanism within Africa as well as abroad. As co-monitor of the Black Cultural Center (BCC), I plan on having events centered on current events and academic discussions on Africa and the diaspora. I want to have all Grinnell students participate and learn as well as share their opinions. The BCC is a place of learning and growth. 

To be liberal is more than just to have a title that shows the world that you are better than those “others,” those who are deemed conservative and thus in many spaces as narrow-minded.     To be liberal is to be engaged, to be hungry for knowledge and to find ways to not only develop as a person but to also consider your role in the world and how your actions can improve not only your life but the lives of those around you and the wider world as a whole. It is time to get rid of the shallowness of our opinions and begin to defend our principles in more concrete ways. Don’t just state your opinions but rather show them in the way you think critically and treat others.

— Aminata Kinana ’18

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