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Genuine surprise is one of the rarest reactions to today’s current news cycle, but it was the only way to describe my response when I heard about the newly agreed-upon peace talks between North and South Korea late last month. As the first inter-Korean summit in 11 years, this groundbreaking meeting of the President Moon Jae-in and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un offered a glimpse of hope and an idealistic, albeit precarious, vision of international relations. Rather than tend toward force and violence as solutions to the world’s most glaring conflicts, we must move to embrace a new mode of thinking with regards to the world — one that upholds communication, discourse, and shared humanity between opposing sides in the quest for peace.
What do vehement vegetarians and chastity champions have in common? Surprisingly, many people I know on campus belong to one or both of the aforementioned categories. Life at Princeton sometimes feels bloated, buoyed by an eleven-figure endowment, rife with waste and unnecessary things, overwhelmed by opportunities to pursue success and wealth. Yet I think most people don’t want to live in a world where all there is to life is ambition, self-promotion, and gratification of desires. In various forms, I have seen people embrace practices of asceticism like vegetarianism and celibacy to testify to higher values and ideals.
As I walk through the tourist-heavy north side of campus, there’s always a decent chance that my ethnic identity will invite people to speak to me in languages that I am unable to understand. The interaction typically starts with an inquisitive remark in a foreign language and ends in an embarrassed shake of my head. Every once in a while I get a pitiful laugh in response and a look that implies, “It’s a shame that he can’t even converse with his own culture.”
The restaurant was modern chic. Not only was it was illuminated entirely by dim “mood lighting,” the water was also served in prim little mason jars, and the menu had not a single capital letter, only variations of the same aesthetically pleasing, gentle font. It was my first Asian fusion restaurant. As I scanned the menu, the only hallmarks of purported “Asianness” were buzzwords such as ‘bok choy,’ ‘soy,’ or sometimes just the adjective ‘Asian’ itself. The entire food cultures of various Asian countries were condensed to a few descriptor fragments that sounded vaguely exotic — but not too exotic.
When another admission cycle came to a close last month, I felt a familiar sense of unease with my place on campus, as it brought back memories from the first few months after I was admitted to Princeton. My father is a professor here, and my uncle was an undergraduate student, so my admission was almost guaranteed, so long as I maintained a good academic record in high school.
Princeton University’s inspiring informal motto, “In the Nation’s Service and the Service of Humanity,” challenges the University’s students, faculty, and administration to pursue a higher purpose in life and broaden their perspective from personal gratification to the well-being of all members of the human community.
Princeton University is world-renowned. Our endowment, at $23.8 billion in 2017, is bigger than the GDP of Iceland in 2016. Our students are increasingly diverse and hail from all 50 states and many different countries. Our alumni include presidents, astronauts, authors, and royalty.
Every time I attend a senate debate hosted by the American Whig-Cliosophic Society, I’ll sit on the side opposite the one I agree with. Senate debate tradition calls on attendees to pound their fists for arguments they like or hiss at comments they disapprove of. It’s a rare opportunity, in an ideologically polarized environment, to force myself into others’ shoes and question my own opinions, without fear of backlash or judgment.
This May marks the 40th anniversary of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. It is our time to focus on not only the successes of Asian Americans but also the overlooked barriers they continue to face. Asian-American women face unique challenges. They are victims of both glass and bamboo ceilings — invisible barriers that prevent women and Asian Americans, respectively, from advancing in their careers. While it is tempting to lump Asian American women in with either all women or all Asian Americans, this approach is shortsighted. Instead, we need to consider how the stereotype of Asian femininity compounds with the “model minority” myth, the stereotype that all Asian Americans are hardworking and successful without requiring help. The complex interplay of these stereotypes generates unreasonable expectations of extreme compliance and unquestioning service for Asian-American women. And it is these expectations that can severely restrict them from moving forward.
My blood ran cold as I watched the man smash his fist into his victim’s face. The other man crumpled to the floor, but the assailant continued to strike. I was terrified. This was neither a scene from an action movie nor a training simulation. It was real-life violence, unfolding before my eyes.
The precept system is a central aspect of Princeton’s educational philosophy, one that is designed to allow discussion of lectures and readings with our peers and to deepen our understanding of the relevant class topics. Considering the goals of precept are to hear other perspectives and to think critically, it is understandable that some have criticized precepts for becoming echo chambers where students speak only to appear knowledgeable or gain credit for participation, ignoring other voices to focus on their own insights. However, this criticism ignores another problem with the current precept reality — in practice, female students struggle to express a thought at all without being interrupted, ignored, or overshadowed.
I remember it clearly: the bustle of the move-in trucks, students, and families beaming with excitement, the Tiger mascot posing with incoming frosh underneath a sign that declared, “Welcome Class of 2021!” On what seemed like both a week and a century ago, move-in day, I felt young. New. Everything around me was new, teeming with the thrill of exploration. Every face, every corner, every arch — all were fresh. Buildings built before the birth of the country seemed new to me. I was new. I felt it.
The power box appeared in my courtyard last week, stuck on a wood post and silent, the harbinger of spring in Princeton. Soon, the wooden fences will appear, unannounced and under cover of darkness, to be followed by white tents and finally white-collared alumni, ready for a weekend of nostalgic revelry. Reunions, our annual campus-wide, beer-fueled bonanza, is right around the corner, and among all the boozing and schmoozing, plenty of Tigers (this senior included) will be on the hunt for that special someone in orange and black.
I received a text from my mom confirming that the check-up went well, and the mass in my dog Bosco’s stomach wasn’t cancerous. Two days later, I was studying in Frist for my psychology midterm the following day when a text from my mom popped up on my computer screen next to my notes about eighteenth-century mental institutions. She texted my sisters and I that the doctors were putting Bosco down because of internal bleeding. She asked me to FaceTime her to say goodbye.
For the past two weeks, Princeton University’s campus has been teeming with giddy high school students in bright orange lanyards and drawstring backpacks. Usually, they travel in packs of two to seven, though an occasional singleton can be found looking down at their phone before asking a passerby where the building called “Frist” might be. As I watch Princeton Preview unfold, I wonder: What will the Great Class of 2022 be like?
If Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s new baby had a mysterious medical condition and doctors thought it was going to die, it is almost certain the royal parents would be allowed to exhaust every available method, anywhere in the world, to try and save their baby’s life. Unfortunately, the United Kingdom does not afford that same right to its common citizens and so today the life of two-year-old Alfie Evans hangs in the balance. He suffers from a degenerative brain condition, and his British doctors think he will soon pass away. Instead of letting the boy’s parents take him to Rome to seek further medical treatment, his British hospital is currently starving him to death.