In times of transition
As another year comes to its end and we symbolically wait for new beginnings, I reflect on how we humans deal with transitions and change.
Do we adapt to change or resist it, are we fearful or curious? And how does society around us affect our choices in changing times? In each our personal histories, we tend to highlight some milestones as being more formative and important. These often happen when the individual meets the collective – and then both identity and culture are reflected.
A milestone in my own life was joining the ISS as director, and being met by an organization committed to providing students with an international academic experience. These days, or more precisely 23rd December, marks the 100th day for me in this new function and environment. It may seem like a short time in what will hopefully be a long, dynamic relationship. At the same time, it is an occasion to reflect on such things as purpose, connection and contribution. It is also a point to stop and be grateful for the ISS values of inclusion and global diversity, in a world where we see too much discord and exclusion.
My 100 days as director happen to coincide with another personal milestone or anniversary. On the 25th December, I celebrate having lived in Norway for 50 years. On that day in 1967, I was an 11 year old girl who came from India with her family. I have had the fortune of seeing the changing aspects of Norwegian society through these years. To have been a part of Norway’s history and political life, embraced her people, lived a life as a Norwegian – and at the same time held on to a strong sense of world-citizenship.
Crossing borders voluntarily can be a great privilege. It can open new perspectives, boost critical thinking and provide an opportunity for personal challenge – among other things through the experience of being defined as “different”. I am proud to have been able to make many life-choices because of being part of more than one culture.
And that brings me back to the International Summer School. ISS provides a platform, not only for academic but also inter-personal and cross-cultural learning. Every year, we see ISS students from all over the world coming together for constructive dialogue, to share knowledge as well as their hopes for the future, and to form new relationships. We hear from many alumni that the ISS experience was a milestone in their lives, and that they continue to carry the spirit further for many years to come. Thank you for your inspiration!
Wishing all our friends a peaceful holiday season, and an inclusive, dynamic New Year!