Oberlin Blogs

Back to Basics

October 5, 2014

Simbarashe Runyowa ’15

Gather around, everyone, it's storytime.

Uncle Simba has a confession to make.

When I was studying away last year, I did more of being away than actual studying. I still did my work, but it wasn't my best work. I wrote one of the worst essays of my life for one of my classes. Tee hee. Now, one of the perks of being a fairly decent writer is having the ability to, in a short amount of time, weave together bits of garbage, speculation, conjecture, waffle, hubris, and weak, weak ideas into a reasonable sounding essay that can garner a non-zero, if not excellent, mark and praises from your teachers. ;)

Don't get me wrong, I still loved my classes in France and got a lot of educational value out of them, but part of why I was there was so I could get more educational value OUTSIDE of the classroom. Learning about history, culture and way of life of where I was sometimes was more important to me than getting an essay perfected. So sometimes I had to just bang out a mildly nonsensical essay so I didn't have to miss happy hour and 5 Euro cocktails. Sometimes, priorities are not always what they seem--am I right or am I right? C'est pas grave, non?

What I'm saying is that I got a bit spoilt last semester. But now that I am back in Oberlin, I have to pull up my socks and start putting in hard work! Because, whoopsy daisy, my grades here actually count towards my GPA. Academics at Oberlin can be challenging, and I personally find that I have to put in a good amount of heavy lifting to get where I need to get. Here is my schedule for the semester:

Intermediate Microeconomics
Intermediate French
Introduction to the Black Experience
Senior Honors

The thing that I am spending a lot of time thinking about is my honors project in Politics. What it entails is writing a very very long paper over the next two semesters. A reasonable expectation for the minimum length is 50 pages, but most people write about 100 pages. Ummmmmmmm.........

Put simply, my topic looks at the role of the state in economic development in Rwanda. Why Rwanda? a) Rwanda is an interesting case study of a post conflict(genocide) state that has made very significant strides in alleviating poverty in a short amount of time and in spite of its history; b) I am interested in studying political economy of development in the context of Africa; and c) Rwanda has an extremely fascinating history.

I'll probably write another blog about my honors project because, let's face it, it will gradually eat up my life until only bone marrow remains if at all, but I'll keep you posted on how and if I live to tell the tale.

Okay, my other classes are all right. Econ has a lot of maths in it and I'm no genius in that so....let's talk about this some other time. French is lovely. The other day, my homework was listening to a song by an Ivorian singer who was tragically in love with two people at the same time, Amina and the adventurously named Fanta. Who was he going to choose???? My homework was to listen to this song and to try to predict his choice based on his comparison of the two. I personally wrote down Fanta because I wish my name were Fanta.

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Intro to the Black Experience is a cool class. We are currently reading slave narratives and feminist theory (bell hooks). And the professor, Caroline Jackson Smith, is amazing and had us do dramatic readings of parts of a Malian epic we read, which were all very interesting.

Outside of class I am still doing my 10 hours of community service at the local community centre (The Bridge) and this semester I have my own radio show on WOBC.org called Black Consciousness Movement. I play contemporary music by artistes of African and African descent. Radio is a lot of fun and I'm learning a lot about how to build a show around themes and how to talk and stuff on air. mmmmm......

The semester is almost halfway gone and I'm also applying to graduate school and jobs! I'm applying for Masters programs in International Affairs. And also jobs because I don't know if I want to actually go to grad school straight after, but that is another blog post, isn't it? The future is becoming a big theme in my life right now.

Being back in Oberlin means going back to basics! Learning how to learn the Oberlin way again, no slacking! What's good about me this semester is that I am trying to find productive ways to procrastinate. Like gradually writing bits and pieces of this blog. But now, I need to go back and study for my French exam tomorrow. A bientot!

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