The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Muhammad Rehan

Photo by Alex Fontana.

By Gabby Hernandez

Not having a one-on-one conversation with Muhammad Rehan `22 during the time we have taken Ancient Greek together is my greatest regret. Rehan is a German studies and classics double major with a passion for languages, learning and knowledge like no other.

Though he had only stumbled out of bed 20 minutes prior to our interview, he still had a remarkable amount of insight to share about his life at Grinnell and life in general.

One of the greatest challenges Rehan faced during his time at Grinnell College was learning how to write. His previous schooling relied on the memorization and regurgitation of information, and the first essay he turned in to his tutorial advisor was nameless, topic-less, three pages long and only one paragraph.

“He [the professor] called me into his office and he just couldn’t start the conversation,” said Rehan. “I guess he didn’t know what to say. When you’re that screwed, where do you start?”

Since then, Rehan strove to become a better writer, seeking to learn how to structure his thoughts and present them to unique audiences. As he reflected on his earlier years at Grinnell, Rehan said that though he was not a good student in the beginning, his professors and advisors were patient, kind and empathetic beyond merit, and that he wishes to reach that level of kindness and empathy as well.

It’s pretty human, you know, to know languages. To learn languages. I guess us being human has sort of enabled us to learn languages? So why not learn them? That’s my motivation for learning. -Muhammad Rehan ’22

Rehan is also pursuing his passion of language acquisition. Rehan grew up in a middle-class family in Pakistan. After working with a German teacher in Pakistan, Rehan suspects the idea to learn German was planted into his subconscious. During his first year, he enrolled in a German class.

During the fall semester of his third year at Grinnell, Rehan, then a German studies major, spoke to his advisor, Vance Byrd, about his desire to learn another language. He settled on Latin with Professor Monessa Cummins.

“Once you take a class with her you just don’t want to take a class with anyone else,” said Rehan. “Before I knew it, I declared the major.”

There are many aspects of languages that appeal to Rehan, one being the way it allows him to experience a culture. He said he also admires how it changes your thinking process. “It’s pretty human, you know, to know languages. To learn languages. I guess us being human has sort of enabled us to learn languages, so why not learn them? That’s my motivation for learning.”

Learning and knowledge are important to Rehan; the endless opportunities to acquire knowledge and the way knowledge has been used as a means of suppression fascinate him. Rehan recommends Michio Kaku’s presentation called “The Universe in a Nutshell,” to others interested in acquiring more knowledge. “There is so much to learn, so much knowledge out there that you’re never going to get even one percent of it. You have to make careful decisions about what you want to know, and what you’re okay with not knowing,” said Rehan.

Rehan is unsure of what he will do after graduation. He said he is considering pursuing a post-baccalaureate in classics but is unsure about job prospects and whether the material can sustain his interests for seven years.

“Most of the stuff that happened in college I just stumbled into, and I liked it so I kept doing it. That’s what I’m planning to do ahead as well, and maybe I’ll like them and maybe I won’t,” said Rehan.

When asked what he will miss about Grinnell, Rehan listed things like peace and quiet, tranquility and the ease of not worrying about life after college. He said one never realizes what they will miss from a place until they leave that place and used an analogy of a laboratory to describe his time here.

In a lab, it is acceptable to conduct experiments, fail and simply move on. Rehan said he will miss being in the lab of Grinnell because he is unsure if it will be as easy to move on later in life.

“I mean, I won’t miss the buildings, I won’t miss any of that. I guess what I’ll miss is just people, you know?” said Rehan. “When you find a group of people, or many groups of people, who you can actually talk with, that make you want to appreciate humanity in humans, those people are quite hard to come by. It’s right to miss them, you know, because then you get an essence of some humanity that you’ve discovered that you’ve lost by moving away from them.”

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