Recently I just realized how on time of a man I am is. Again, I did this post on the last day of the month. And in fact, this semester, I submitted all my assignments on the deadline days (never before them) – which is not entirely a bad thing actually since I was not late. I think this is because I always feel I have (still) too much time when the deadlines are still relatively far away – and this, I think is a bad thing. As a result, I enjoy my life very much since I love to delay my works, but then when the deadlines are near, I often suffer from lack of sleep. And furthermore, I become emotionally less stable during those periods. Now that I have acknowledged this, let’s see if I can make myself to start doing my works even though the deadlines seem still far away.
Okay, enough of the intermezzo, and now I want to share/preserve some lessons learned from taking one of my classes in GWU (George Washington University), which is the Introduction of Hebrew Scriptures (or also known as REL1009). This class is offered by the Religion Department of the university. However, even though it is called “REL,” the professor (or rabbi, since she is a Jew) already mentioned on the very first day of class that this class is not about spiritual refreshments and that there would be a lot of readings and writings to be done, not merely spiritual tips and lessons. In fact, I feel more like I’m taking a history class now. And by the way the last class was already over by the time I am writing this post, but the final exam is coming in 7 days time. This is some background of this class.
I was so surprised by the fact that the rabbi started the last class by asking the students what could be improved from the class, how we think about the assignments given, and if the text books have served their purposes well to us. And many students voluntarily raised their hands immediately and spoke up their opinions. Some said something positives, but some critiqued some of the assignments which they thought were not so useful/too hard/irrelevant. This is something quite amazing for me, a guy coming from Asia used to be surrounded by a lot of reserved people who do not really speak up in public places (I consider classroom as a public place), especially speaking about something negative or intriguing. I think being a bit more open and vocal is good and in fact needed. But that being said, I am not 100% pro America and hate Asia. I think that every culture is unique and each culture has been shaped uniquely by its very own history until it becomes what it is right now. We can’t entirely change a culture that is already there for some time, but adding a few positive elements will definitely be a good thing. And again, to repeat myself, those few elements to be added to Asian culture, in my opinion, are to be more open and vocal in speaking up opinions in public places.
Another seemingly trivial lesson is that reading the assigned readings for the class is actually good. How do I know this? Because I did not really read the readings of this class due to various reasons, but there were a few classes for which I read the readings beforehand. And I felt different in those classes. I felt like I know what is going on and I can actually participate in the discussion easily, since the questions that the rabbi asked are normally taken from the reading. I wish I read more readings in the past, so that I could learn even more from this class, but nonetheless, past is past. What I can do now is to apply this principle in my next semester in NUS, i.e. to be more discipline and diligent and consistent in studying. I hope by that I will be able to study more, and eventually score better grades too. Again, this seems to be a very trivial point that every body knows, but after I felt it myself, now I understand better why reading the readings is important!
To close off, I just want to say that this post is made by a guy who does not consider himself diligent, while striving to be more diligent. And I know this sounds more like a personal reflection, but if you can get something out of this, which I hope you will, that is great!