On My Own: The Courage of Small Things

David Brooks writes an absorbing editorial in The New York Times about Clemantine Wamariya, who was six-years-old when the genocide began in Rwanda. Brooks’s op-ed features a link to the story Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil tell about love, loss, family, memory, and home. I highly recommended both works. After Wamariya describes the ostensible distance between academic work and lived experience, she offers an example of liberation that can serve black women well in this world. Rather than enact her professor’s vision of student comportment, Wamariya verbalizes this, “I can’t be less emotional. It’s personal,” but what she thought and did not say is even more compelling, “…I didn’t survive all that horror to sip tea and join his club.” In deciding the significance of her survival for herself, Wamariya declares that she “built a private curriculum.”

How do you understand the significance of your endurance/survival? Have you set about building “a private curriculum?” What is the relationship between designing one’s own curriculum and freedom?


4 thoughts on “On My Own: The Courage of Small Things

  1. Designing one’s own curriculum allows one to create standards and guidelines unique to ones’s goals and aspirations. This gives people the freedom to do what is best for there overall growth and development as a person.


    1. Hi Alexis. What might your own “curriculum” include–what standards and guidelines did you have in mind? Wamariya seems to be speaking to matters of authenticity. (She notes the ways that she is takes care to avoid submitting to superficial “manners” or affectations of social acceptability that can silence one’s true expression.) This kind of authenticity seems to matter to her more than formal goals and aspirations. In what ways might today’s culture challenge one’s inner authenticity? In what ways have you, perhaps, already sensed the need for a curriculum of feeling, thought, action??


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