It is now January 2011 and both the Holiday Season and New Year’s Eve have come and gone… WOW time has flown! It feels like just yesterday that I returned to the U.S. after a terrific three months of research in Liberia. My dual-M.A. program at Brandeis is two and half years in length, and after two years in the classroom I was expected to do a summer of research followed by an autumn of final-paper-writing. So, with that summer research in the bag all I had left was the final paper (as of September 1st). Fall semester was the final half of that two and half year journey through graduate-school at Brandeis University, and what an odd half it felt like. I spent the semester as a 3rd year Masters student, officially enrolled at Brandeis, but without any classes scheduled… I had one task and that was to compose a paper based on my summer research.
I spent my first week back in the U.S. at my mother’s house in Fairfield County, Connecticut… which was great! Upon returning to Massachusetts I found myself stuck in a nomadic lifestyle, I was supposed to move into a friend’s father’s house in Cambridge but I had to wait 4-6 weeks. During that time I enjoyed myself around the area and spent many days socializing on campus. All this was a blast, but my paper was not getting written. I finally moved into my friend’s father’s house (with a year of glorious house-sitting ahead of me), I created a “war room” in the kitchen, and I got down to business with that paper. It was not easy to begin, I sort of lost confidence in what I had achieved in Liberia, plus all the fun between Connecticut and Massachusetts had only helped to distance me quite a bit from that (three month long) challenging summer.
I pulled it together quite quickly and the creative juices flowed and flowed. I had to essentially go underground for two months in order to both begin and complete my paper, and it became something of an obsession and it got written. My 1st draft was due November 15th and I completed the document at 5am on the 14th. It had been my goal all along to submit a fully completed paper (in my opinion) on the 15th even though the final draft was not due until December 15th… and I believed I achieved this! The paper is titled Baby-Steps Toward a Peaceful and Profitable Future in the Republic of Liberia: Establishing Economic & Environmental Coexistence Between Rural Communities and International Logging Companies and I could not be happier with it. I am truly proud of the fact that it fully speaks to my curriculum and experiences within both Brandeis’ M.A. in Coexistence & Conflict and the M.A. in Sustainable International Development and, of course, it fully addresses my three months of research in Liberia during summer 2010. Additionally, I feel my undergraduate education in urban planning is also visible within the document.
I received word from my Advisor (Prof. Ted Johnson) on December 20th that I had in fact submitted a good and final paper, I had now completed all the requirements of my program at Brandeis. Specifically, Professor Johnson said “Very well done Adam. You’ve tackled a serious problem and raised some vital issues not only for Liberia but other resource-stretched societies.” He continued by stating “I will say that you’ve more than met the requirements for passing this requirement… you may want to publish it.” Needless to say, this was thrilling feedback for me. But, the moment was bittersweet. I love Brandeis and I have loved my time here, I have never felt so happy and at home… what a bummer to have to leave now. But, like many experiences before it, Brandeis has now become a part of my identity and I look forward to representing it wherever I go in the world and in whatever I do. It is easy to feel as though my time with Brandeis has come to an end, but I do realize that this very moment just marks the beginning of my relationship with the school. I now have the rest of my life to be involved with Brandeis University, an institution that I own as much of as any other student that has ever obtained a degree from it. I am, and forever will be, a Brandeisian!