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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Lamb

Week 3: Balance

Balance. Is it ever truly a realistic goal or achievement? What does it mean to live a balanced life? Especially when engaging in emotionally charged conversation around humanitarian work and the causes of migration. And when paired with living in a city filled with layers of history over millennia, I don’t believe it is feasible to expect balance.

One day while walking towards a green space, I came across a building and had to take a closer look. The function is etched above the door - elementary school for boys. And it is named after Christopher Columbus. To the left of the doors is a sculpture of the representation of the founding of Rome - Romulus and Remus being fed by the she-wolf that rescued them from death. Apparently this is an abandoned building, as evidenced by the vast array of graffiti - with phrases such as k*ll N*zis, Antifa Zone, and more. I believe this one image sums up the layers of history, function, and meaning brought to the contemporary. People across time have used this space to share changing messages with the community.

Scuola Elementare Maschile. 2024. Author's personal collection.

So, I will embrace the imbalance of engaging with works that bring up deep feelings that range from horror to joy, sadness to contentedness. And knowing that I am not doing this deep dive alone is even more powerful. Together, with 20 others, we are discussing torture, climate change, migration, refugees, health, nation states and their responsibility, potential for change and the forces that resist.


I am the oldest student in this group, old enough to be the parent of the students in my cohort. At times I feel awkward with this age gap and wonder how I’m perceived, and other times I am grateful to have a lifetime of living in the world and bringing observations and experiences to the conversation. And I readily welcome the insight that the diversity of our group brings to the conversation as well. Age is not really a factor when sharing how we’ve all navigated the world, whether born and raised in the United States, South America, Western or Central Europe, the Middle East, or Asia, every person has a unique perspective to share that brings a wholeness to our conversations while we wrestle with difficult topics.


This week we read about torture, climate migration, natural disasters, and starvation. We read stories that took place in Haiti, Cambodia, New Orleans, and beyond. We evaluated organizations that are supposed to facilitate peace and bring aid and their true effectiveness. And we visited ancient ruins filled with layers of history where people from all classes and backgrounds mixed and mingled for hundreds of years.


In my field placement, I was transported to a time when my children were young and I was teaching in a preschool, as I assisted in an after school preschool class. They colored, put together puzzles, drew, told stories, and painted. It was every bit of chaos and laughter you can imagine. And they taught me new words and welcomed me to the space. It was a pocket of joy amid tough material to digest.


Perhaps that is the true balance. Remembering and choosing to find pockets of joy and laughter, even when many areas of life are filled with stories that could cause one to retreat within and escape from the world. When I feel that my tiny insignificant contribution won’t make an ounce of difference in a cause that spans the globe without an end in sight, I look to the little one who is reading a book or asking me to help put on a princess dress or needing help washing hands after painting. It is not insignificant to extend kindness and graciousness to the one next to me.


I will never know all the stories of those I encounter every day. Yet I can choose kindness. I can choose to engage in the hard stories and hear their words. I can choose to honor their lives by continuing to pursue this field in daily, incremental ways.


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Dawn Ferguson
Dawn Ferguson
Jan 19

I love your words. They say & mean a lot. They also make one think. About their lives, surroundings, accomplishments & failures. About the history of where they are & how that history affected them growing up. How it made them think & make the decisions they did. About where they are now, & where they could be tomorrow. Thank you for your words. Your contributions may be 'small', but they are never insignificant. Keep doing what you're doing. Changes may seem to take forever, but they will happen. And you will be one of the ones to help in that process.

Autumn Lamb
Autumn Lamb
Jan 21
Replying to

Thank you for your encouraging words. I"m glad to know that my thoughts can impact others. :)

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