The Best Worst Year Ever

I am quite thankful for this semester at Bogazici. At the beginning of the semester I remember being nearly terrified in all of my classes. I had a class that focused on Middle East Politics, one that focused on Central Asian Issues, one that was actually a graduate seminar in resistance and social change, a modern theory course with what seemed like a very difficult instructor, and a Business Strategy course. Now the semester is two weeks away from over, and I am uncertain about my grades in any of these courses. I am fairly certain that I wont actually fail, but I might be getting a few c’s, which used to be regarded as complete failures in my mind. However, the confidence that I gained by taking these risky courses is worth the possible marring of my near perfect academic record.
I am not really certain how I developed the idea that some topics were too complex for me to study, but the middle east, and central asia were big, scary topics in my mind. People don’t just study them for a semester at the senior level. They start with introductory courses and take years before they can thread out what is actually happening there. Perhaps this idea comes from all of the media hype in the middle east. It is as if the media wants us to think that it is all very complex, because when it is too complex then we stop asking questions. Well, now I know that not asking questions is definitely the right thing to do. I would have loved to immerse myself solely in one of these classes for a semester, but even just taking up a few hours a week, within three months I was really able to gain some understanding. This completely shocked and inspired me. These are not taboo subjects that are reserved for experts. These are the issues of everyday life, that you and I should be discussing, and should be asking questions about if we are going to support legislation that then effects these areas, and in return, us.
Of course, Business Strategy is still a struggle. We had a guest speaker today. He was a very charming man, and definitely a public speaker. I couldn’t help but like him. He was discussing rebranding strategies of a major hotel chain that he worked for, and at one point he brought up the example of starbucks brand, and how they can charge $3 more per cup of coffee than they should be able to, just because they are an experiential, lifestyle brand. It’s true, but what got me was that he was excited about this. His face lit up with hope and —-excitement—- when he said it, whereas it just kind of disgusts me. It made me realize that even though I can play the financial games of business, in the end I am not at all a capitalist, and I want to keep capitalism as far out of my NGO as possible, once it is constructed. If that means that I need a business mind, then I will gain one, but I will never get excited at my ability to charge people more than the cost of a product because I have fetishized and commercialized their environment.

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