“And I Also Ran for Senate…”

When the sky is rinsed in that cathartic, faint blue hue; when the soothing pools of raindrops cleanse the dryness of this land; when the only sounds that echo around our ears are the gentle “drips drops” that flow and grow over time… That shall be when, perhaps, those words will come back to me. I shall gather the faded memories from an earlier chapter of my life, and smile at the effort, faith, love, joy, gratefulness, and excitement that I had put into this project. Perhaps, one day, I will casually bring this up in a business lunch conversation.

“…and I also ran for Senate, once upon a time.”

Life is about embracing challenges
Life is about embracing challenges.

Of course, by Senate, I am referring to the student government at Pomona College. How will my audience react to this? Will they be laughing? Will this whole endeavor be regarded as yet another one of those early struggles to acquire power, or be seen as a genuine effort to contribute to a community that one deeply loves and embraces?

I cannot predict the future, but this does not mean that I cannot write my own future. Yes, these terms sound so grandiose – Senate, future, community… After all, I myself was not a fan of student government prior to my decision to experience it for myself at the start of my college experience.

On this rainy (which, by itself, is almost a foreign concept to Claremont, Calif.) day, whose written form (4/7) calls for college-wide celebrations, since 47 is the magical number of Pomona College, I took a stroll. After all the drama, I made the decision to let the rain inspire this reflection. Politics can be a game, one that matters but sounds stinky to some. Student politics can be even more so. One vote may not count, but in fact, every vote could count. Politics is a complicated paradox that involves power, and its manifestations can sometimes be seen in a negative light.

Life is about tradeoffs. Since I embraced the “dismal science” of economics, the subject that two generations of my family have adored, I have constantly found myself walking across the campus, evaluating the costs and benefits of everything. My first ever “campaign” involved a lot of planning and paradoxes. How can I make it thoughtful, yet not “planned” in the same way that lucrative marketing agencies promote new products? 

-1 minute and 30 seconds: speech at Frank, the South Campus dining hall (during an intensive 1.5-hour session with a great number of candidates speaking consecutively)

-3 giant posters (and my very limited drawing skills)

A Facebook event (which was destined to compete with the 30 other E-campaigns)

-A mass email opportunity to reach out to the entire campus (chances are, however, that this email could be deleted without even the slightest attention)

How can I remain who I am, but reach a broader audience with the following constitutional ways of doing things? How can I convince the amazing people whom I’ve briefly met through one event or two, without the dangers of information overload or sacrificing my integrity? How can upperclassmen who have never heard of me, or perhaps even seen my face, associate my experiences, personality and plans with that name on the ballot? How do I personally balance the sheer level of tension with my academics?

“…and I also ran for Senate.”

I kept taking my stroll, preparing to take down my two remaining giant posters. Seeing their lonely faces on the walls made me pause, and think. I gently separated the tape; it had fulfilled its mission in connecting my temporary promotional material with the college’s long-existing walls, which have witnessed the campaigns of generations of aspiring student senators. It made me feel… somewhat melancholy, but no tears fell on this day. Not a single one of them.

The highlight of my day, beyond a doubt, were my friends. Maybe one day, I will forget about that the sun did not climb out of the clouds to celebrate its rebirth, but instead, generously allowed the rain to continue taking over the center stage. Yet, I may still remember that I was inspired to campaign seriously, for the first time, for myself as an individual, instead of for a cause as a member as a group. I will be able to recall that I was inspired by how a group of friends who began to know each other through working on a project, on achieving a common goal to better our community as a whole, made impacts on individual members of our college. I will also be able to remember all those sweet messages in which my friends who supported me all along spoke of their impressions of me (although they knew me to varied degrees), and how they looked forward to my further campaigning efforts in the years to come.